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.
After a day of shopping and eating (oh that pizza at Lombardi’s…), I arrived at the McKittrick nice and early, and joined Gareth – who’d already done the 6pm show – in the queue, where we also met a couple of friends of his. And that’s where it began. I was looking forward to my shows, but as soon as I stepped into that queue and started discussing plans of who to follow with fellow fans, the excitement and anticipation started to grow.
I decided quickly that I would do a loop with a slightly less-followed character (likely Malcolm) to ease me back in, but wanted to leave myself open to following whomever attracted my attention.
We checked into the hotel, collecting our ace cards – our reward for arriving early and queuing in the cold – and following that dark, dark maze until the Manderley opened up in front of us, like the moment The Wizard of Oz transforms from black and white into glorious technicolour. Before long, the aces were called and my heart started racing. There was no lift, so it was a simple decision – up, or down. As my first visit in over a year, I’d kind of forgotten where everyone would be before the ball, so I headed up, and I quickly discovered the Macduffs, and spent a couple of minutes with them, but instantly knew they weren’t the right way to start my first show, and I raced down to the ballroom to watch the first ball of the evening, check out the casting of the court characters, and see who caught my eye. I could barely stop myself grinning under my mask at the joy of being back in this glorious place. I tried to remind myself which man in a tux was which, clocked Adam Griffith was playing Malcolm, and decided that he would be my second loop, and headed up to the town to get my head around the goings on up there.
I checked in with Speakeasy, Fulton and Agnes, gently reacquainting myself with the corridors and hidden rooms, before finding Malcolm – just as he took someone in for a 1:1. I popped off for a few more minutes with Speakeasy, before heading back to join Malcolm, and was lucky enough to be one of the handful of people in the interrogation room – one of my favourite scenes which I’d only seen once before. I guess it helped that I’m reasonably fit at the moment, as I was able to stay quite close as he went up and down the stairs (which was more energetic than I expected, thanks to Adam’s long legs). I stuck with him for all of my second loop, enjoying his scenes with Duncan, Banquo and Macduff (which I’d seen before, but practically forgotten), and was lucky enough to be taken in for his 1:1 before I finally left him at the point I picked him up towards the end of the loop.
I’m not sure why, but I suddenly knew exactly how I should spend my third loop – Hecate. One of the most important characters to the world of Sleep No More, it was a great way to set up my remaining shows – particularly as I knew I’d be seeing the Porter at some point in the coming days. It was about time for the second rave of the evening, so I knew exactly where to find her, and was treated to Sexy Witch’s post-rave dance on the bar – I wish Evelyn Chen had been on again during my visits so I could have done her whole loop. Onalea Gilbertson’s portrayal was utterly bewitching – pun intended – and the way she commanded her space was incredible. Walking at just the right pace, casting the most stunning shadows and finding the most beautiful light as she glided into effortless poses, the audience eating out of her proverbial hand. I was taken in for a 1:1, where I emerged with a soggy paper boat and a faint kiss on my mask, and stuck with her until the start of the third rave of the evening, when I went exploring to reacquaint myself with the rest of the venue.
Starting up on the 5th floor, I worked my way down, reminding myself of some of the secrets the McKittrick keeps, and finally joined the very end of Malcolm’s loop to follow him down to the final banquet, where I took a spot near the middle at the front. Not my favourite place to watch it from, but the impact of being close enough to see the change in Macbeth’s eyes in the final moments is quite something – I didn’t follow Erik Abbott-Main during my visits, but his finale was probably my favourite.
I headed back to The Manderley with that inimitable feeling you get after a great show, excited for what might unfold in my remaining visits.