Sleep No More – Friday 30th December, 11pm

My memories of the McKittrick are like a wonderful dream, so I’ve tried to write about them in such a way. I’ve kept details, particularly of 1:1s, quite vague, so as to avoid spoilers, and also to prevent me from clouding any experience you might have had with the details of mine. And forgive me if I’ve mis-remembered anything. Details of dreams are often hazy, and we do live inside a dream.

 

I was really looking forward to this show after the great first show I’d had. Late shows are always my favourites – they’re usually a little quieter, but they also feel even more dreamlike, dark, and claustrophobic. Though that might all be in my head!

Ally and I arrived around 10pm, having had a bit of a rest after Fiddler, and joined the queue, where we also met up with Gareth. We started our pre-show ritual of discussing previous shows, and any plans we had for this one, and listening to Gareth talk following Evelyn’s Sexy Witch the previous night solidified my plan to follow a female witch, likely Bald Witch, as I had seen less of her loop than Sexy Witch.

Again, there was no lift, so on entering the hotel, I raced downstairs to see the witches’ pre-ball dance, and was instantly taken by Stephanie Croussillat’s Bald Witch as she eyeballed me before taking another white mask for a short dance. I knew I’d found my girl, and followed her, completely under her spell, for my entire first loop.  Her dancing was sublime and her storytelling and expressions captivated me. From losing her hair, to resetting the forest, to her dance in the chapel – I was completely bewitched. She was strong, playful, sexy. I enjoyed some intense eye-contact, I dried off her shoulders following the rave, and as she joined Sexy Witch in their little room off the Porter’s lobby to get ready for the next ball, she invited me in, ran my hands all over her head, and kissed the palm of my hand. I was ready to do her bidding – and very nearly followed her into the second loop, but with limited shows ahead of me, it was time to move on.

Our pre-show chat in the queue had made me realise how little I knew of the 5th floor. When Ally mentioned a mutual friend of ours being taken in for a 1:1 with the Matron, I realised I’d never really spent much time in the infirmary or given much thought to the characters that reside there – so it was time to go exploring. As I walked past the Matron’s hut, she (Ginger Kearns) was reading, peering out, and locked eyes with me. A moment later, she took another white mask in for a 1:1, but while the New York audiences are fickle and tend to disappear when doors close, us Drowned Man fans seem more likely to persevere, and I found myself waiting. A few minutes later, with no one around and the previous 1:1 recipient long gone, another nurse came running through the maze, and the Matron ran out to meet her. There was a beautiful moment where they met through the maze, reminiscent of other moments where Punchdrunk worlds collide – Wendy and William meeting through the gates at Temple Studios, Marshall and Mary through the mirror. As the Matron ran back to her hut, she looked at me again, and a moment later, opened the door and invited me in. What followed was a familiar tale – one which I’d heard twice before in Temple Studios (once from the Fool, once from Conrad) – but was again completely different in this new context.

Before long, it was time to move on with the 3rd loop looming, and my instincts were telling me to do another female character and to try to see something new rather than a “safe” loop, so I decided that Mrs Danvers/Catherine Campbell (Ryan VanCompernolle) was my next target as I had only bumped into her briefly in the hotel before, when I was following Banquo back in my second ever show. Knowing the story of Rebecca however, I knew she’d be worth following. I found her in Duncan’s bedroom, where she set a metronome ticking, and throughout her loop – where she interacted with Lady Macbeth before the ball (a new scene for me), and made Duncan’s (slightly odd) second bed. A fellow white mask was getting very close to her during her scene with Lady Macbeth, and during the ball, some other white masks stood far too close to the dance which interfered with Lady Macduff’s fall – Danvers stayed incredibly composed, but I imagine she was getting frustrated and shortly after she went into a locked room alone, whispering to a black mask on her way in. I imagined this was when she was due to do a 1:1, but perhaps needed the time alone to re-compose herself, but being loop-loyal, I wanted to complete her story, so my Temple Studios conditioning made me wait for her, and a couple of minutes later she emerged and I dutifully followed, and gradually a smaller, more manageable and considerate group formed around her. She must have appreciated my loyalty, as a few minutes later she took me in for a 1:1 in the same room Banquo had taken me into in my second show – much to my surprise as I had assumed this was meant to happen earlier in the loop. I stuck faithfully with her as she teased and tortured Lady Macduff with the milk, stirring it with a rhythmic clattering of spoon on glass reminiscent of the metronome, and as she ate toast and drank tea with the Porter. Her loop may not be my favourite in its own right, but Ryan was brilliant, and she set me up perfectly for the loops I would do with Lady Macduff and the Porter a few nights later. At the end of the show, she stood at the door with the Porter, and pointed us all down to the finale, where I discovered a new spot at the side of the banquet. It might slightly ruin the illusion being able to see the mechanics of the finale, but the lighting is just stunning. And this spot proved very lucky for me over my remaining shows.

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