Thursday, February 9, 2017

Panna Garden and Sleep No More

After our afternoons full of different activities, we reconvened for dinner at Panna Garden II. Bethy did most of the planning for this trip, and she picked some of the most amazing restaurants. Panna Garden was one of the places I was most excited for, I love Indian food plus the ambiance isn't like any other I have ever experienced. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves... 

All the girls, we were all excited to have Karin join us! This was her first trip to New York!

The men of the group, we missed Ricky on this trip!

V was a big fan of the decor. It was a super magical place to be as an adult, I can only imagine how magical it must have been for a little kid.

Mango Lassis!

Bethy let the servers know we were there celebrating my birthday, so after our meal the lights were dimmed, the disco balls were turned on, the music was turned way up and I was brought several scoops of mango ice cream with a candle. What a fun birthday surprise!

After dinner, we all had big evening plans. Mom, Dad and Karin headed to Times Square to see a Broadway show while Beth, Jenny, Mike and I headed to the Mckittrick Hotel for a production of Sleep No More. 

Describing Sleep No More is difficult, it is unlike anything I have ever experienced. This immersive production of MacBeth was the main reason for this trip. I have wanted to attended this one-of-a-kind play for years, so Bethy thought my 30th birthday would be the perfect time to go.

Sleep No More is the world's most immersive production, where lines between reality and theater are blurred, it's a dynamic, living show, where audience members are not only invited, but encouraged to participate. The Mckittrick is a pseudo hotel that has 6 floors of maze like rooms, all full to the brim of detailed props that guests are invited to interact with.

Upon arrival we were given a white mask and a playing card. All guests wear masks and aren't allowed to talk, the cards divided us up into smaller groups to enter the play at intervals. The experience lasts for three hours, and every single guests has a completely different experience than everyone else. It is suggested if you came as a group to split up and go through the performance alone. I didn't want to go alone so I made sure to stay with Bethy, Jenny and Mike split off from us at the beginning and they had a very different evening than we did.

If there's a door, try to open it. If there's a character passing by you, follow them. You go into it unsure what to expect. You pass through dark hallways, find yourself in the middle of a lover's quarrel, wander into hidden rooms, encounter a visibly disturbed woman shivering in a bathtub. The actors don't speak, they act out their scenes through lyrical dance, props, and interacting with other characters and sometimes, audience members. Most scenes are short and the actors run out of the room to lead you to another part of the story, you can choose to follow one character as they run (and I literally mean run, it almost feels as if they are intentionally trying to lose you in the maze) or stay in the room with another, or go off on your own to explore the dark rooms and perhaps happen upon another part of the story.

As previously stated, the play is MacBeth, but it is set in the 1930's, so all the characters are in period dress as well as the sets, it becomes another part of the experience to piece together who everyone is in the play since it is set in a different time period than the play was written. 

One of the most iconic scenes of the production is when MacBeth returns from killing Duncan, his hands are covered in blood and he is visibly falling apart emotionally and mentally, so lady MacBeth helps him take a bath in attempts to wash it all away. Bethy had been to Sleep No More before, so she knew what room we needed to be in in order to watch this scene play out. Each scene is repeated three times throughout the night in order to help viewers see as many as possible.

The end scene is plays out like the last supper with all the characters coming together in the grand ballroom.

After the play, guests are invited to hang out in the lounge where they have crooners singing 1930's hits. We grabbed a couple of mocktails, met up with Jenny and Mike, and swapped stories about all the scenes and rooms we saw.

Like I said earlier, describing Sleep No More is difficult. I had done tons of research on this production when I created a presentation about the Night Circus for my book club, since it played a large roll in the inspiration for that magical novel, and yet the experience took me completely by surprise. I thought I knew what to expect going in, but it wasn't anything like what I actually experienced and I loved that. I can't believe I finally have crossed this extremely unique, one-of-a-kind experience off my bucket list. However, we read an article about a man who has gone to the production over 100 times, and every single time he discovers something new, a new hidden room, a different scene, myserteous props he hadn't ever noticed or studied before. So I'm glad I have made it through at least once, but I would sure love to be able to go again and discover even more of the mysterious magic

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