Sleep No More: Punchdrunk’s U.S. Premiere

Posted on November 6, 2009 by


by Laura Adrien

Robert McNeil in Sleep No More, a Punchdrunk and A.R.T. presentation. Photos by Stephen Dobbie and Lindsay Nolin.

British theater company Punchdrunk, in association with American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), makes its United States debut remounting its production of Sleep No More, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth through an Alfred Hitchcock lens.

The Old Lincoln School in Brookline has been transformed into a multi-floor cinematic and theatrical expanse, making the space an interesting medium to present theater and art simultaneously. Audience members are encouraged to roam the building, and once inside can explore until the end of the last performance of the night. They are free to follow specific characters or simply explore the converted rooms of the old school, where Hitchcock era barrooms and hotel lobbies have been juxtaposed with Shakespeare’s graveled monastery courtyards.

Audience members are given a mask to wear throughout the performance, not only to help the actors distinguish themselves from the crowd, but so one is a ghost present within the story. The audience enters the actors’ world – without time or physical location within the building or the plot line – as participating observers in the action. The characters often instigate audience members, abruptly starting and terminating the actions with little notice.

The show is presented as a silent movie; the characters interact mostly through performance art, exaggerated gestures and interpretive dance, with minimal dialogue. The dialogue combines aspects of Macbeth with other more obscure works, creating a space where multiple plot lines intersect and diverge and one night is not enough time to observe and understand the whole production.

Alternating between truly bizarre and simply amazing, Sleep No More will run through January 3, 2010. Tickets are available on A.R.T.’s website or on location at the Old Lincoln School. Wear comfortable shoes, as there is plenty of space to explore.

The location does use strobe lights, and children under 16 are not permitted while children 16 and 17 are only permitted with an adult present.