As you are surely aware, my ravishing reader, I suffer from an acute interest in the arts, of which literature is only a single compartment in a bureau otherwise brimming with knickknacks, tchotchkes, and bric-a-brac.
Theater, the art of fine drama, occupies one of these compartments. So imagine my excitement upon attending two “immersive” theater experiences in New York City – Sleep No More, a loose adaptation of MacBeth hosted by the McKittrick Hotel, and Then She Fell, the Third Rail company’s reimagination of Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland.
Please believe me when I say, cherished reader, that the astounding degree of creativity and talent that went into these productions filled me with an overwhelming, veritably mythic joy. The innovations! The costumes! The exquisitely-choreographed dance scenes! These “performances” left me bewitched. Je n’en crois pas mes yeux!
Now, having dispensed with effusive declarations, I shall offer some general apercus. First, the similarities stand out. Both productions involved complicated dance choroegraphy, incredibly tactful stage direction, atmospheric soundtracks emitted via hidden speakers, and the ability of each audience member to “participate” in the performance by wandering from scene to scene with some degree of freedom. However, differences did arise. In the MacBeth performance, audience members donned masks and were forbidden from speaking a word. Then She Fell, on the other hand, featured a much smaller audience and the option (even promptings by the actors, in some instances) to speak and interact with the performers. In the latter, audience members were shepherded deftly from room to room by “hospital orderlies,” while Sleep No More seemed to pointedly abstain from any attempt to control its guests.
Thus, my experience naturally differs to some extent from that of other theater-goers. Then again, I am a towering, fur-bound behemoth whose visage resists any casual comparison to the human. That is, after all, what makes me exceptional, and indeed, what makes this theater review unique. I might dare to call it heroic in that regard.
At any rate, suffice to say that Then She Fell did come across as the more intimate of the two. At one point, yours truly found himself alone in a cramped bedroom with a young Alice, whereupon the damsel in question requested that I brush her hair while she asked me in a soft voice about my past romances! This was, while flattering, a tad too intimate for my tastes, as the last romance I remember involved a particularly charming green and scarlet spore that bedecked a live oak tree on the slopes of Mount Rainier. The passage of time may have imbued my memories of her/it with an artificially rosy hue, thanks to the damp climate and above-average rainfall of those years…
Ah, well. I digress. Sleep No More and Then She Fell were certainly love-ly experiences of their own. As I continue to mull over them, rest assured I will share any insights with you that materialize. You are very welcome for that.
Have you attended either of these plays yourself? I’d love to hear about it. Tweet to me @City_Sasquatch.