Wednesday, May 11, 2011

NYC experiences - subway dining and sleep no more

On May 1, a group of diners found themselves at a very unusual luncheon. With the combined efforts of several supper clubs - most notably, a razor, a shiny knife - over the course of 30 minutes, a formal, six-course meal was served to a group of a dozen people aboard the L train, on the New York City subway system. In addition to be a very impressive feat of timing and coordination, as you can see in the video below, it also looks like it was a whole lot of fun, both for the coordinators and participants.

You can read more about this highly unusual dining experience on a razor, a shiny knife's website, as well as in this New York Times article. And speaking of unusual, Patrick and I went to see Sleep No More this past Saturday, one of the strangest, coolest and definitely most unforgettable theater experiences I've ever seen. Inspired by Shakespeare's Macbeth and performed by the British troupe Punchdrunk, you don't just watch Sleep No More. Instead, you're allowed to wander freely through a 5-story, 100 room set that includes such spaces as a 1930s-era hotel, a truly eerie graveyard, lots of unsettlingly-strange bedrooms, a ballroom, a hospital/sanatorium, and many more, all after being given a Venetian-style mask to wear and are told that no talking at all is allowed.

Photograph by Sara Krulwich. Courtesy of The New York Times.

 Photograph by Sara Krulwich. Courtesy of The New York Times.

Photograph by Sara Krulwich. Courtesy of The New York Times.

Not only do you not speak, but beyond quite a bit of wailing, sobbing, muttering, and other incidental noises, the actors remain silent as well, telling the story through an artful combination of movement and dance, with music, lighting, and of course, ambiance, helping set the scene. As an audience member, not only are you given free reign to wander the halls of what feels like someone's crazy dream, but you're encouraged to explore the different environments - whether by reading the letters strewn about, poking through cabinets or just sitting and taking it all in - while the action literally unfolds around you. You either follow after the actors as they walk, stumble, and often run through rooms and up and downs staircases, interacting with each other, and very occasionally, you, along the way. You don't have to follow the actors, but when you see someone covered in blood stumbling through the hallways,  I don't know about you, but I'm chasing after them to see what will happen next. So if you're in New York City and looking for a truly incredible experience, I would highly recommend trying to get tickets to see Sleep No More. Get in as early as possible to give yourself as much time as you can to explore and watch the action, wear comfortable shoes so that you can chase after the actors when the opportunity presents itself, read up on your Macbeth so that you have a least some outline of the story to go on, and be prepared to get split up from the person you might have come with (Patrick and I got split up right at the beginning, found each other, lost each other, and then found each other again). Also, with quite a bit of nudity and some mess-with-your-mind imagery, no one under 16 is admitted. Of course, as creepy as Sleep No More is, more than anything else, it's an unforgettable experience that's a whole lot of fun.

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