Breaking the Fourth Wall: My Experience With Interactive Theatre

When I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, my friends and I attended a performance of  Punchdrunk theatre’s “Sleep No More“.


Sleep No More is an interactive theatre performance based loosely on Shakespeare’s MacBeth. There is no dialogue and no program is given. Instead, you follow the actors around the 1930’s era”McKittrick Hotel” ( a group of refurbished warehouses in Manhattan) and watch as the drama unfolds.

Now, I know many of you probably read the words “interactive theatre” and thought to yourselves:


And I don’t blame you. I was a little skeptical myself. But I’d heard good things, so decided to give it a go.

We arrived at the hotel about half an hour before the performance started, and were led through a series of drak hallways to the hotel lounge known as the “Manderley”. There, we had a drink, listened to the lounge singers, and awaited our turn to enter the hotel. (Fans of Gossip Girl may recognize it from this episode)

We had each been given playing cards with different numbers, and soon they announced it was time for anyone holding a 7 to enter the hotel.

Gulp. That was me.

I said goodbye to my friends and made my way towards the elevators, where a dapper albeit creepy young “usher” awaited us.

“Good Evening”, he said, “Welcome to the McKittrick Hotel”.

As we stepped into the elevator, he handed us each a mask like this one:


and told us it must remain on  at all times during the performance. Once the elevator stopped, we would be free to  explore the hotel as we pleased. We were encouraged to follow anyone not wearing a mask, as these were the characters in the play. “Follow your curiosity wherever it leads you,” our usher said, “and if possible,  do it completely alone.”

Soon, the elevator stopped, and as he moved his arm to let us pass, he added: “Just remember- fortune favours the bold”.

The crowd immediately dispersed, and I was left to wander the hotel alone. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty much scared sh*tless. I felt like I was playing a real-life game of Clue and that Colonel Mustard was going to jump out from behind a corner and bludgeon me to death with the candlestick at any second.

He's just so damn nefarious
He even looks nefarious

Suddenly, an unmasked young woman ran past.  Showtime, I thought. A small crowd gathered, and together we followed her from room to room as she brushed her hair, put on lipstick and sobbed over a photograph. I had no sweet clue what was going on, but was strangely mesmerized.

I was just about to follow her into her bedroom when I spotted a young, unmasked man down the hall, clutching his stomach in pain. (I would later discover this was Malcolm.)

He was, in a word, beautiful. Like a taller, hotter Joseph Gordon Levitt.


Obviously, I had to follow this dude.

I watched Malcolm tear apart what appeared to be an alchemist’s shop before finding what he was looking for. He turned to face me, and before I knew it, grabbed my hand and led me down the hall to a shoe-box size room fashioned into a graveyard. He locked the door behind us and opened his palm to reveal a single egg. He stared into my eyes intently (!!!) before placing the egg in my hand. Then, without warning, he raised his hand and smashed the egg in my palm, dirt spilling out everywhere.

He searching through the dirt on my hand as though looking for some sort of message, before taking me by the shoulders and pressing me against the wall. He ripped off my mask and brought his face exquisitely close to mine. “Do you see the signs?” he shouted; “Do you?!”

We had been instructed not to speak, so this put me in  a rather awkward position. I wanted to play by the rules, but I also wanted to please Malcolm. I sort of shrugged a little, and with that, he collapsed into my chest and began murmuring and kissing my neck. I stood there motionless,”The Greatest Love of All” playing on a continuous loop in my head.

I had always thought I would meet the love of my life on an airplane, but hey- interactive theatre would work too.

Future engagement photo

For some unidentifiable reason, Malcolm grew tired of weeping into my bosom and kicked me out of the graveyard. I was devastated, but the show must go on.

I spent the next two hours wandering aimlessly around the hotel, trying to piece together what the eff was going on. We were told to read the synopsis of MacBeth beforehand, but I was too busy scarfing down NY pizza  and Magnolia cupcakes to give it a second thought. I watched some sort of weird dinner party where almost everyone’s sexuality was questionable, a grizzly murder, and a LOT of interpretive dance performed by a pregnant lady.

Yeah. I don’t know either.


At the end, we were all subtly ushered back to the Manderley, where I rushed over to my friends to tell them all about my  quasi make-out session with hot Joseph Gordon Levitt. But before I got the chance, my friend Michelle interjected: “OMG! Did you see the naked orgy with the baby sacrifice?”

Um… the what with the what now?

Oh no b*tch didn’t just try to steal my thunder right now. A baby sacrifice?  Are you f*&king kidding me?

Whatever. Everyone knows Hot Joseph Gordon Levitt pulls trump card any day.

As it turns out Sleep No More was some serious choose-your-own adventure business. Everyone had completely different experiences. One of my friends watched a man take a shower, completely naked. She even handed him a towel. (!!)

All in all, it was a pretty amazing experience, and if you’re looking for something fun and different in NYC, I would totally recommend it. The only downside? I never did get Malcolm’s number. But all’s not lost- I’m working on my Craigslist Missed Connection as we speak. What do you guys think of this:

“You asked me if I saw the signs-   w4m (The McKittrick)

You – tall, dark and haunted.

Me- smitten.

I thought at first you were quoting Ace of Base, but now I see. Let’s solve those mysteries together. “

Question of the Day: Do you love the theataaah? Ever experience interactive plays?


13 thoughts on “Breaking the Fourth Wall: My Experience With Interactive Theatre

Add yours

  1. I’d like to clarify that the witch man had to take a shower to wash away all the blood he got on himself during the crazy naked baby sacrifice strobe-lit drum and bass-laden orgy. He was sobbing in that shower Tobias Funke styles. Best thing I’ve done in NYC!


  2. This idea sounds like a wonderful experience and a lot of fun.. I have never heard of it although I am not surprised of the creativity coming out of NYC. I would love to check it out. Or I could wait for the idea to be franchised and make down here ….in about 10 years.


  3. Haha, I loved reading this post, sounds you had a prety crazy experience! I love the theatre and consider myself open minded when it comes to genres, but recently I´ve seen a minimalist contemporary balet that pushed my button. The stage was dark, 19 people were randomly jumping and runnung up and down while chanting – after an hour and half we escaped with my frined, as she had a panic attack, from sufforing… So, hands up for inetractive theatre! 🙂


  4. Oh my gosh this is amazing and you’re adorable. I love JGL so I totally know where you’re coming from. Haha. Wow! This makes me want to go now! How expensive is it?


      1. Seriously. I saw JGL in your post and started drooling. lol. Gosh… now I’m going to have to stalk various actors to see if I can find the one you got your experience with!

        Was it crowded (a lot of other visitors)? I’m worried since I read some reviews on it and they said that there are a few time slots where it’s literally like 30 people following one actor. 😦


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