Sleep No More: A Non-‘Arty’ Review

11 February 2019

Let us all take a moment to mourn the $190 loss my bank account took last week.  A $190 loss that will hopefully, at the very least, be tax-deductible after this roasting review.

Sleep No More: An NYC ‘must see’, which heralds from the UK and is described as primarily being based on William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with inspiration also taken from noir films, as well as some reference to the 1697 Paisley witch trials.


It’s an interactive, immersive theatre and dance performance, installed over six floors and 100 rooms at The McKittrick Hotel in NYC.

Critics and pretentious wankers all around the world have praised it for many years and after a friend told me it was a ‘must’ and that she’d been 4 times, I thought I’d give it ago.

I was also promised vast amounts of nudity and being the creepy perve that I am was excited about this.

This is what went down…

  • Arrive at The McKittrick Hotel and excitedly line up to check our bags and coats (which is compulsory yet costs $4 pp which seems… silly).
  • Lady demands I hand over my scarf. I tell her I would rather hold onto it given New York is currently in a polar vortex thank you very much.
  • Lady tells me smugly that I will regret my decision given how warm it is inside.
  • I assure her smugly right back that I will not regret my decision for holding onto extra layer of warmth.
  • Walk through curtains to a 1920’s style bar and immediately regret holding onto scarf given heaters are blasting so hard my pits instantly start getting moist.
  • Wrap scarf around waist like daggy soccer mum.
  • Order 3 house spirits with soda.
  • Man with accent dressed like Shakespeare himself charges me US $48 for 3 beverages.
  • Seems like daylight robbery but ok.
  • Our ‘card’ is called to enter whatever TF we’re about to enter (it’s literally from a deck of cards which has absolutely no relevance to Macbeth as far as I’m aware but #art) and we aren’t allowed to take overpriced drinks in so I force us all to skull them. #straya
  • We’re each given a creepy AF white beak mask, which seems unnecessarily frightening given we know we’re about to enter a predominantly dark set.

sleep no more

sleep no more
da fuq

  • A lady explains the rules to us in a singsong voice; there is no talking allowed, no phones and we must all keep our masks on at all times. The ‘performers’ won’t have masks on and ‘guides’ (AKA hotel staff) will have black masks on. We’re encouraged to split up and immerse ourselves into the ‘experience’, explore and ‘be curious’.
  • Into an elevator we go where a very-dramatic-Shakespeare-man (Macbeth?) very slowly and theatrically explains the rules to us; there is no talking allowed, no phone and we must all keep our masks on at all times. The ‘performers’ won’t have masks on and ‘guides’ (AKA hotel staff) will have black masks on. We’re encouraged to split up and immerse ourselves into the ‘experience’, explore and ‘be curious’.
  • …but sir, we just…we JUST heard them from your colleague.
  • This is exactly what happens when you’re not allowed to speak to each other.
  • The elevator opens and a lone white masked man tentatively steps out.
  • I follow suit but very-dramatic-Shakespeare-man (Macbeth?) holds out his arm and stares at me for like a solid 15 seconds before shutting the elevator door leaving old mate white mask to fend for himself.
  • We go up another level, are all booted out and I immediately lose my friends.
  • Brilliant.
  • Fucking brilliant.
  • I’m now just left wandering around what can only be described as the set from every single horror movie. In the dark. Wearing a white mask that completely obstructs my peripheral vision. Alone.

  • Wonderful.
  • For about half an hour, I roam freely through the six dark, misty, intricately detailed floors, with more than 100 rooms full of shit Marie Kondo really wouldn’t approve of. Ain’t nothing joyful about cups of old teeth and piles of paper.
  • I probably didn’t even get through half the rooms but what I did see was pretty weird. There was a maze of dead trees, illuminated by one lone blue light; a darkened ballroom stalked by moving trees; eerily dark graveyards with statues masquerading as performers; rooms full of old baths and single beds, à la asylum vibes – the list goes on.
sleep no more
Nothing creepy about this…
  • I told you. Weird.
  • Also remember that every room is dark AF and kinda misty, with different melancholy, creepy music swelling around you.
  • I scare the living hell out of another white mask when he comes around a corner to find me lurking in the shadows.
  • It’s fun and I silently chuckle to myself.
  • What I haven’t seen yet is a performer. And more importantly, the promised nudity.
  • I came for the swinging shlongs damn it!
  • It’s almost 40 minutes before I see a performer and he is running through a corridor fake coughing while a bunch of white masks run after him.
  • I quickly realise every ‘performance’ involves a few seconds of weird silent dance fighting before the performers ‘flee’ with a stampede of white masks in their wake.
  • This is bullshit, I didn’t pay $190 to go for a run.
  • PLUS, many of the white masks will actually push you out of the way as they eagerly chase the performers, getting creepily close to them when they stop to do something incredibly riveting like stir a drink, stare off into the distance or fold a napkin.
  • Cool.
  • It’s all very rapey and the show is apparently designed so that every time you go you experience something different which sounds like bloody good marketing and sales ploy, given the price of a ticket.  So all these rapey fans go over and over again, trying to get the coveted ‘one-on-one’ experience where the performer takes them into a secret room to do weird sex things who knows what.
Sleep no more
  • I spot some performers kissing each other with blood on their faces.
  • Seems very unsanitary.
  • Still no shlong.
  • I was promised shlong city.
  • They should have called it ‘Shlong no more’.
  • lel
  • As I head downstairs, I see a group of people at a table and the whole thing is performed in slo-mo which would be impressive but they’re just doing really basic shit like lifting a glass up and kissing.
  • You wanna impress me? Do a cartwheel in slo-mo, bitch.
  • I walk around a little bit more and try to ‘immerse myself’ but I get super bored so I go downstairs to down another overpriced vodka and do a wee.
  • In the loo, I decide to update my insta with some scary beak mask insta stories. This entertains me much more than the overpriced and dark museum I paid for.

Animated GIF

  • I ask a man what I’m doing wrong.
  • He says something profound like ‘there is no right way to experience this’ and I mean FFS dude I just want to see some cool shit I was promised and that sure as shit doesn’t involve chasing drama students around a hotel as a) I’ve had too much alcohol for navigating stairs at a quick speed and b) no.
  • He mysteriously tells me to go to level 3.
  • Ok so I tried to get up and a black mask silently blocks me, shaking his or her head.
  • Given I was promised shlongs this black mask is literally cock-blocking me.
  • I navigate through some boxes and fan mazes until I get to level 3 and there is absolutely nothing happening as I scurry (actually by this point I’m dragging my feet and schlepping moodily from room to room like a bratty teenager whose parents won’t pay for her to go to aforementioned drama school) around looking for anything but museum props and people running.
  • Up some more stairs I go and I hear a door open.
  • I turn and see a lady in a 20s style ball gown emerge. It has a 4m long train and I can’t believe my luck that I have found someone without a slew of white beak masks jostling for viewing.
  • I trail after her in a wake of what I can only describe as toilet spray, trying not to trip over her train, excited about what I am about to experience.
  • She sits down at a table and I peer through the darkness, watching her fold some cutlery into a napkin.
  • For 3 minutes.
  • Then she gets up and walks over to a spotlight and stares into it.
  • For 2 minutes.
  • She then goes back through the door she came in and slams it shut behind her.
  • Right.
  • I spot someone else but she quickly whisks another white mask into a secret room and I am left loitering outside the door like a creepy perve.
  • I’m blocked a few times by black masks and honestly, I’m supposed to ‘choose my own adventure’ not ‘choose my path as dictated by these mute black masks’.
  • I find myself in this weird church thing and audibly (and very much so against the rules) mutter ‘fuck this’ and clatter my way back downstairs.
  • Instead of ending up at the bar where I was aiming, I find myself in this underground area where a group of performers are wrapping up a ‘dead’ performer.
  • Very, very slowly.
  • I don’t know or care how he supposedly died.
  • Probably from boredom.
  • So I abort my mission of immersion and beeline back to the bar, where I find my friend who found the whole thing just as ridiculous as me.
  • Outrageous.
  • My other friend emerged shivering a wee bit because he’d been watching a girl have a bath and she flung her wet hair all over him.
  • I offer up my scarf for warmth (HA, see I always knew it would come in handy).
  • Downstairs I loudly proclaim as much and bang on about how nice it was to have a scarf wrapped around me as I smugly present my coat number, only to release the lass from the start was no longer there.
  • My smugness was for nothing.

So would I recommend Sleep No More?

Absolutely not.

Unless you have lots and lots of money and would like to spend it on a truely baffling evening involving potential shlong sightings and riveting napkin folding. The sets were cool but given how dark it is, the likelihood of you missing most stuff is high.

I urge you to instead just come over and watch me. It’s free, I’ll turn the lights on, you won’t have to wear a beak mask AND I am 120%  certain I’ll get up to more interesting shit.

More reviews here.

Kelly McCarren.