And playtime begins!
That glorious moment at the end of a conference when you've completed your last meeting, you're dead on your feet, you've been working long days and you have a week of holiday in New York ahead of you. Yeeeeeeeah it's wine time!
I took the Amtrak from Boston down to New York where I met my brother for a week of theatre going, steak eating, cocktail drinking, sight-seeing goodness! We stayed just off 8th Avenue near Madison Square gardens, a three block walk from Penn Station where the Amtrak came in so that was perfect! The area was a little rough around the edges but still very touristy with loads of really great places to eat and a main shopping street just around the corner (perfect for me).
I've split my New York trip into a few posts as there is a lot to write about. To start with? Sleep No More, an immersive theatre experience by theatre company Punchdrunk, I wrote about their London based production The Drowned Man here on my old blog. Anyone that knows me will know what a game changer The Drowned Man was for me so I was really excited to see Sleep No More which is based on Macbeth. (By the way this post does not contain spoilers so you're safe to read on.)
Side note: Immersive theatre takes many different forms including free roaming theatre like Sleep No More where you can drift about the building and sets as you wish following actors and storylines or just having a look around the various sets. Promenade theatre is where you are led around the action but it usually takes place over several different rooms, I'm sure there are many, many other variations as well but they're the two types I have experienced.
Sleep No More is run by a separate company to Punchdrunk who originally set it up, they've made it a commercial enterprise by adding a rooftop bar - Gallow Green and a restaurant - The Heath to the same building as the play. Needless to say each location was achingly cool, on Sunday we went to Gallow Green for brunch, the food was amazing and the location as you can see was stunning. It was such a hot day but sitting up there with a breeze and a cocktail really took the edge off the jetlag for my brother and the post conference energy slump I was experiencing.
Gallow Green was accessed via an old wooden elevator past this display, up the steps to the roof, how perfect is that? I love the rails and having greenery all around in the middle of the city.
You start and end your Sleep No More experience in the Manderley Bar. The bar is all red velvet curtains, champagne and actors drifting about in stunning costume, at the end of the evening there would be a band playing it had a very speak-easy vibe to it. On the first night we got caught in one of the most epic thunderstorms I have ever experienced we were soaked from head to toe so when I was offered a champagne cocktail in the Manderley Bar I readily handed over my money, grateful for the fizzy goodness.
I tried to avoid any spoiler groups before the show as I remembered how the unknown element of The Drowned Man had been one of the best parts. My friend Charlotte had been to see Sleep No More a couple of weeks before me and she loved it, despite being soaked through following the thunderstorm and there being a pushy crowd it was a great show. We went back three more times during the course of the week each show having a completely different atmosphere to the previous one, the crowd being the biggest influence on whether or not you had a good show. During the show you are sometimes chosen for a one-to-one performance, over the course of the week I had three one-to-ones with different characters, my favourite being with the red witch (whose name I have been told on more than one occasion but I cant' remember!).
So on our last night we headed to The Heath for dinner after the play. Decked out in a similar fashion to the Manderley Bar there was a dark, smoky atmosphere with taxidermy crows hanging from the ceiling and a live band playing in the background. One down side was we were put by the kitchen (obviously the comfy clothes that are required for running around a five floor building weren't quite up to scratch for the classiness of The Heath!) but the food and wine were really good and it was definitely the perfect way to round off our trip.
- If you have time see Sleep No More, if you have a little extra time see it more than once. The action takes place all over the building and even the most athletic audience member will never be able to see everything. By visit four I was still seeing new things and finding new rooms
- Go for brunch at Gallow Green, I believe it's only available on Sundays, we walked in and got a table but I think booking is recommended. It is pricey but the location and atmosphere make it worth it, plus it's the perfect location to dress up a bit if you enjoy that kind of thing (I turned up in trainers and felt like a total loser!)
- During the play don't always go with the crowd, I frequently tried to get away from the hordes and found action taking place with few or no other audience members around.
- Don't be shy at the bar, I was typically British and expected to be served in order but the squeeky wheel gets the oil, make yourself known!