Sammir Dattani recently visited New York and was blown away by an out-of-the-world theatre experience. Along with his friends, he went to watch Sleep No More a theatre performance which turned out to be a great reference point for him as an actor as it’s a living, dynamic show where audience members are invited to participate. “We entered this warehouse which was converted into a fictional McKittrick Hotel. The experience begins with you and your fellow attendees being whisked into an elevator where an actor reads you the ‘rules’ (see box on turn page) of the evening; there were no seats and different rooms on six floors are done up in myriad intriguing ways. Once I checked in, they gave me a room and then took me to a foyer which was set in another era. Then there was a bar where I enjoyed a drink and later they took us to other floors in batches. Each room was distinctive one was morphed into a living room, another had a hospital set-up and there were so many more. The play is loosely based on Macbeth,” he shares.
The play is like nothing other before. In one critic’s words, “If there’s a door, try to open it. If there’s a character passing by you, follow her. 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 naked woman shivering in a bathtub. It’s so believable without even realising it. Throughout the course of three hours, you begin to morph into an actor. Sleep No More in its purest form has a reputation for being something truly special, inexplicable even," says the critic. Sammir adds, “The audience were asked to wear black masks and were supposed to lose their friends who accompanied them. In fact, after the show I met my friends and their experience was different compared to mine. Everyone had to experience it his or her way. The audience ran helter skelter. The actors pretended that the audience didn’t exist. I was sitting on a chair and was almost pushed off it because the actor wanted to use it as a prop. It was almost like we were hiding and seeing the act.”
It was a far cry from a conventional play or a Broadway performance or a musical. The whole experience was incredible for the actor the performances were breathtaking, there were sexual undertones and heightened drama. “One’s clearly spoilt or choice and one doesn’t want to miss any detail or performance. As an actor one’s always looking at such experience and reference points and for me the show was enriching. It was something I had never seen or heard,” he adds.