For the first time, the acclaimed site-specific theater company Punchdrunk is performing in NYC. The ambitious London collective scored a smash hit across the pond with their 2006 production Faust, which was presented in an abandoned warehouse turned into a mysterious, immersive dream world. Actors and musicians performed all the "scenes" simultaneously as spectators drifted freely through the vast space. (If you were lucky enough to catch The Confidence Man, you know the drill.) The Observer called it "one of the most astonishing events, not just in the theater, but in the whole of London," and reviewing Faust for the NY Times, Anne Glusker described it thus:
Punchdrunk’s artistic director, Felix Barrett, has filled a 1,500-foot disused warehouse surrounded by wire fencing with a series of rooms and cordoned-off areas: a large undivided space, punctuated by real trees is called the Forest; a nifty re-creation of a Hopperesque American coffee shop is the Diner. Sometimes you enter a space and there’s action already going on — a fight, a dance, two characters menacingly circling each another. At other points in the evening, you find yourself in an area devoid of performers or other audience members. The lighting is low, eerie. The effect is spooky, an adult version of a child’s haunted house.
Tomorrow they'll make their NYC debut with Sleep No More at The McKittrick
Hotel, a luxury hotel which was built in 1939 and, according to the show's website, has been sealed from the public for 70 years—until now. The production is described as "a theatrical experience that tells Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Macbeth through a darkly cinematic lens." Like Faust, audiences "move freely through the epic world of the story at their own pace, choosing where to go and what to see, ensuring that everyone’s journey is different and unique." It's not cheap (tickets cost $75 each) but you'll get your money's worth; the show has the potential to last three hours, depending on how long you decide stay. And if you're still not ready to check out after three hours, you're invited to hang out with the cast at the bar!
Gothamist's Jaya Saxena drove up to Boston to see Sleep No More last January and reports back: "It was most creative piece of theater I can remember seeing. It accomplishes every play's ideal of completely bringing the audience into the production, and making them lose any connection to the world outside the production for those few hours." Considering how much people pay for soulless Broadway schlock, $75 doesn't seem so unreasonable for a rare experience like this. It will sell out, so buy soon.