It turns out I can go back to Manderley again, as Sleep No More, the immersive Macbeth/Rebecca theatre piece, continues to extend its run. Even on my third visit last weekend, I saw so many new scenes, even visited new rooms, and interacted with new characters. (Read about my first and second visits to discover the otherworldly experiences I’d already had.)
This was my first Friday night visit and the crowd was a little crazier (I saw people checking their cell phones for the first time, which kind of kills the mood), yet there were still those moments both quick and extended when I found myself stumbling in on a character alone, or being pulled into their world. Right from the beginning it started. My friends had gotten playing cards for an earlier entry and I was waiting alone when the lecherous porter came by and asked if I was waiting for a drink. I said no and was whisked to the group already waiting for the elevator, their masks on.
On my first visit, I’d had the chance to go with the taxidermist into his secret room, but I had let someone else as it had come immediately after a rather intense one-on-one with another character and I needed a break. I’d definitely regretted it the next day. Luckily, I got another chance to take his hand and found myself alone in a dark room, where the taxidermist took off my mask and led me to a chair. I won’t go into detail as to what happened next as I’d hate to spoil it for anyone. There was a bit of a challenge involved, and I guess I made the right choice, and was soon pulled away to another room where Hecate was seated at a table. The taxidermist clutched to my shoulders for what seemed like several minutes and then darted away. I was left with the rest of the crowd, anonymous again.
Like all my experiences at Sleep No More, the memories are like a half-remembered dream. I was finally able to follow Lady Macbeth and saw her terribly vulnerable disintegration into madness that takes her to the hospital, where the blood still won’t go away. I saw Macbeth kill Duncan (splashing me with a little blood in the process), after the king had unveiled numerous ticking clocks into an almost unbearable crescendo that suddenly stopped. I finally discovered that the mysterious blonde woman I’d been unable to place was the bald witch in disguise, as she danced alone in a forest and pulled off her hair. I trailed after her back to a secret room where she watched herself in the mirror. I saw another witch and Banquo dance in the chapel where Banquo received the prophecy that he would never be king. And twice I found myself in an almost secret scene, where in a closet-like room Malcolm and Macduff interrogate each other about the king’s death, violently swinging a lamp back and forth.
When we finally all stumbled out into the lively Manderley Bar and took off our venetian masks, we reunited for drinks and tried to connect our experiences over absinthe punch. Believe it or not (actually, you’ll find this pretty easy to believe), I might go back a fourth time. The show has just extended through Halloween. And sometimes, in my dreams, I already go back there.
[Can't make it to NYC? I just discovered a fantastic video on BBC that gives you some insight. Check it out.]