look closely. think twice. cut once.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Get thee to the McKittrick Hotel!

Warning! Here there be spoilers for Sleep No More. Read no further if you want to stay in ignorance. Seriously. I'm not censoring what I reveal here. Okay fine. Keep reading. I warned you.

How do I even attempt to describe Sleep No More?

I could start with the nearly pitch-black maze right after coat check that almost gave me a panic attack (thank goodness the man in front of me had a white shirt to reflect what little light there was).

I could mention the white masks every audience member is asked to wear  - masks that put us all in anonymity and isolation, shadowing our eyes and distinguishing us from the unmasked performers.



I could skim at the surface of how they've transformed a five-story warehouse into a fully-treated installation - crackling wallpaper, chests of drawers, desks, all filled with scraps of paper, notes, cameos, photographs, bars of soap. The smoke-filled forest. The maze of crates and boxes. The graveyard. The candy shop. The statues so real I was afraid to touch them in case it was an actor about to grab me. The open casket. The surgical observatory. The infirmary. The hall of empty tubs. The bed filled with potatoes. The child's bedroom full of headless dolls. The empty perambulators. The taxidermist.

I could even try to describe some of the scenes I witnessed - and, try as I might, I still couldn't give it all to you. I can't share my night, because the magic of this production is each person has a highly individualized experience.

Sleep No More is a product of Punchdrunk, a British theatre company that creates "immersion" theatre - a fully-realized highly-atmospheric installation environment that the audience ("guests") can wander about and explore and investigate to whatever degree they prefer. Within this space are the dancers, acting out highly acrobatic stylized scenes from whatever work is being adapted. Sometimes the guests stumble onto a scene - or onto one of the dancers on his own - and sometimes the scene stumbles onto the guests. Sleep No More is specifically an adaptation of Macbeth, with strong influences from Hitchcock films, chiefly Rebecca.

There is almost no spoken word in the whole night - occasionally you will catch a character on his own and he will be muttering a line of text - Macbeth, crouched on a wall, putting his shoes back on, "a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing" - Lady Macbeth, mad and lost, grabbing guests and whispering French in their ears or screaming out "Enough!" - a man in a suit, a dead bird in his hand, making a phone call, saying, "Hello Phyllis? It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood." - but most of the interaction is in body and in facial expression.

The maddening, wonderful thing about this work is that you can't catch everything - there are scenes and interactions happening simultaneously on all five floors of the installation. Some guests choose to stay in one room and wait for the scenes to come to them. Some guests will follow a performer as she goes from scene to scene - but they have to be prepared to run, as Macbeth sprints up two flights of stairs in quick succession, running to find his mad wife roaming the halls, or to find Duncan asleep in his bed and smother him. I followed a witch down a narrow corridor after the orgy scene (which included a ram's head and a bloody baby and strobes strobes strobes), chasing her full-out, and when I turned the corner I had seen her take, she was gone - but there was Lady M, so it was okay.

I followed Macduff after finding his murdered pregnant wife and encountered him in an intense battle with a woman in black, as they slipped over and around each other through a door that had been unhinged and was now the barrier they half-carried, half- dragged or slid on the balcony corridor. She finally dragged the door to an empty doorway and disappeared from view behind it, and he was left with the door on his own. He later found his wife, alive again, as they dressed for the upcoming banquet.

I saw the Boy Witch in an erotic and murderous encounter at a wall of phone booths - first with one of the other witches, and then with an unidentified man that ended in a strangling.

The highlight for me was the Macbeths' bedroom - here Macbeth ran to hide, afraid of the dark tasks ahead of him, but was caught up by his wife. After an intense physical fight/seduction that ranged all the walls of the space, the bed, the furniture, he left in a fury - and when he returned, covered in Duncan's blood, Lady M stripped him and bathed him in the tub. When he again fled, she began a slow slipping into madness, first trying to wash the blood off her own body, then trapping herself within her wardrobe and banging on the now-transparent wall to try to free herself.

There were true small treats too - I managed to follow Macbeth as he climbed down a flight of stairs; mid-flight he paused, encountering his Lady climbing up. She smiled slyly, handed him a necklace, which he pocketed, and then they parted.

The dancing in this piece was truly spectacular and athletic - people climbing walls and ceilings, bent in impossible positions, contorting and climbing as if in a nightmare where gravity did not exist. Never have I seen a performance so perfectly choreographed to its space, nor a space used so fully and well.

And there was so much I missed! Apparently there was a card game in a room I never found (and a murder there too!). Someone in the bar was reading palms and Hecate lip-synced. Macbeth scratched messages in the dirt of the graveyard. The woman in black tried to poison Lady Macduff with milk. A forest of Christmas trees took over the ballroom, as characters waltzed. Certain performers will sneak off a guest for a one-on-one encounter in a hidden locked room. I barely saw the witches until near the end of my second cycle. And there were nurses! I still have no idea what they did. And certain large rooms I visited more than once in the hope that there would be a scene, but they were always empty.

And the conclusion of each cycle is of course the banquet scene. This ... this is one spoiler I won't reveal.

The completist in me is quietly moaning about the many things I didn't catch but later snooped up about online. But the truth is, it's not about catching everything. This really is an immersion, it's this huge intense dreamlike experience, you're caught in this loop with the characters, all trapped by their inescapable paths toward blood and destruction.

As of right now, the show is running through July. Go see it if you can.  Wear running shoes. And don't kneel near the murdered Duncan unless you're prepared to get fake blood on your pants.

54 comments:

  1. MORE SPOILERS:

    I went back a second time, last night (this time I got to keep my mask!). I tried to be careful to catch things I hadn't caught before, which meant avoiding any scenes that looked familiar - the one repeat I had (besides the last supper, where everyone is) was being led back to the witch orgy, but this time I had a much better view (which also meant I got some blood spatter on my shirt) and knew to follow MacB after so I could catch the murder of Banquo, which was badASS.

    Things I caught this time:

    *the GORGEOUS ballroom dance, swinging awesome music, just spectacular, and RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME (I should mention that this time around, I, a seasoned go-er now, was very very good at keeping at the front of the crowd of anyone I was following, so I didn't get left behind like the first time).

    *I followed a distraught man (I didn't realize until the second cycle that this was Banquo) into a semi-hidden chapel, where he prayed at the altar, then was accosted by the Sexy Witch. They did a superawesome dance across the table, where she contorted his body with her MAGICNESS, then left him. I followed him as he left a few minutes later. He approached a locked door, whispered briefly with the Black Mask guarding it, then beckoned me in and locked the door behind me. THAT'S RIGHT, BITCHES, I GOT A ONE-ON-ONE ENCOUNTER WITH BANQUO (who by the way looks a lot like Matt Smith, yum). He looked at me and whispered "Fleance?" (that's Banquo's son, which I stupidly could not remember at the time), then removed my mask and repeated the name. He gestured for me to sit, then prayed at a small altar. He then anointed my head and hands with oil, blessing me, and presented me with a sword, as he kneeled prostrate at my feet. He led me to the altar, where we opened the drawer and discovered a torn up playing card - the King - in a pile of dirt (I got to keep it! yay souvenir!). And I wish I could remember what he said to me at that point, his face mournful and wistful. He then returned my mask to me and led me out. Hot DAMN.

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  2. *I saw the taxidermist wrapping a dead bird in his shop, then taking it to a grave yard, where he buried it and sang a prayer over its grave.

    *taxidermist dance with a bloody woman in another hidden room

    *I found out where the bodies of the doll heads piled on the bed in the infirmary were (yeep! flying over a cradle in the Macduff residence! creepy as hell!).

    *Mrs. Macduff, raised from the dead (by a witch), staring into my eyes accusatorily for two minutes straight, before gathering her suitcase and fur coat and joining the ballroom dance.

    *A weeping Porter writing a letter to his lord of what he has witnessed. "It will have blood, they say, blood will have blood."

    *On my second cycle I followed Duncan pretty exclusively, which had its ups and downs, since he spent about 5 minutes sleeping (yawn). But he had an awesome encounter with Mrs. Danvers (the woman in black) and now I know where she disappears to after her door dance with Macduff. She made his bed and tucked him into it. Then he slept (for a whiiiile). When she returned from the door dance, she dug into the chest at the foot of his large bed and pulled out a metronome, which started ticking. Then he arose, did a bit of prayin' and dancin' and contortin' in his own little hidden chapel (this place has a lot of hidden chapels!). When he had tired of that he went to sit in an armchair before the fire, and a young man in a black suit approached (still not sure who this fellow was. The young man shaved him with a straight razor, then shined his shoes and dressed him for the ball. They were then joined by Macduff for a drink from the hollow globe, before all went off to the ballroom to dance. After the dancing had concluded, Mrs. Danvers returned to this bedroom and hurriedly covered every single clock she could find (and there were many) with fabric. Duncan again came to the room, reeling and drunk, and uncovered all the clocks. He then went to a canopied alcove and collapsed, asleep on a pile of pillows. Soon Macbeth approached to smother him to death. His body was then found by Banquo, who rang the bell to summon Macduff and the young man - they carried him out (awesomely stylized) to a chapel and left him there. I actually forget whom I followed next ... It might have been the young man.

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  3. *There was a man in a white coat (perhaps a surgeon?) in the surgery observatory, contorting around the table, and scribbling lines in chalk along the walls. He chose someone else for his one-on-one encounter, the fiend.

    *There was another dance on the ballroom floor that was not the whole company. I witnessed only some of it from an upper balcony.

    *I read a letter penned by Lady Macbeth to Duncan, thanking him for the necklace - I'm assuming the very same necklace I saw her handing off to Macbeth in the stairwell the last time I went. It's so fun to put the puzzle pieces together into a narrative!

    *Also read the letter from Macbeth to his Lady telling her of his first encounter with the witches. After reading it, she wandered, naked but for a blanket wrapped around her, moaning the name Banquo. When she encountered Macbeth later she accused him over and over, "What did you do? What did you do?"

    *I saw the death of Banquo, though not the preceeding card game, as I followed Macbeth to the room - very athletic, ending with a brick.

    *My final follow: a clearly distraught (and by the way DEAD) Banquo running frantically through the halls, up stairs, tripping over himself and turning to stare in horror above and behind him, at things unseen to us. He led us to the ballroom for the last supper, where he went to haunt Macbeth. And DAMN but I got a great view of this scene this time (last time I was in the back behind Very Tall People).



    It's entirely possible there was more stuff I saw that I'm simply not remembering. As I was typing this, I kept thinking of little tidbits and going "HOW could I forget that???" There was just so much, and so many small things, and it's hard to retain it all, especially because a lot of what I experienced last night were things not discussed much on the chatboards, so I didn't have corroborating stories to help me remember from other audience members.

    So my return trip was wonderfully fruitful and just awesome (though I had that anointing oil on my hands for the rest of the night), and I finally got a better sense of the physical layout of the space. But I STILL have no idea what sorts of scenes or encounters happen on the upper two floors, which always looked so vacant when I'd go there, or what the hammer is up with the Nurses.

    Which means, if Judy does come to New York to see this show, I just may have to go back again.

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  4. OMG, Zelda (is that your real name?), I am so glad I found this post! I, too, recently had an encounter with Banquo, but couldn't find anyone else's description of it anywhere online, so thank you so much for this! There was this burning curiosity to find out exactly how other people reacted, now I know of at least one :)

    What he says, or rather whispers in your ear, when you see the card, is "they have scorched the snake, not killed it". Did he also whisper to you to remember him right before he let you go?

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  5. Elisa, bless your heart! That sounds like what he said to me! Yay! I'm always excited to have another piece of the puzzle filled in.

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  6. Who was playing Banquo that night? And did you get scared when he pulled out the sword? And did he whisper "remember me" at the end?

    I had that oil on me the whole night too, and loved it. When I later followed Banquo again for a portion on the staircase I hadn't seen before, I could feel the oily stains he left on the railing (and I did too) that made it slippery. It was cool to know where they came from.

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  7. It was Jeffery Lyon, and since he was my first 1:1, I've had a crush on him ever since (my most recent SNM, on Halloween night, I got his final 1:1 when he was playing the Tailor, and he led me down to the banquet. I was internally kvelling!)

    I think he whispered "remember me," but alas I cannot remember now. I actually mostly felt confused as to what I should be doing when he pulled out the sword, or led me to the altar - this was my very first 1:1 and I hadn't read much online at that point, so I didn't know what was "expected" of me.

    Which Banquo did you have?

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  8. I had him too :)

    It's funny, I hadn't heard anything at all about this literally before the night we went (I don't live in New York, just visit frequently). And I hadn't even read Macbeth! Or seen Rebecca (but I followed only characters from Macbeth, so Rebecca wouldn't have been much help). So essentially I went as a total tabula rasa - I'm sure way more "blind" than most people (because, again, it's Macbeth, many have read it, or at least Wikipedia-ed it before the show, but I didn't).

    But I followed Macbeth for the first loop and Banquo for the second, and so got a storyline, more or less. But because I didn't know anything about this show, I was so so surprised when he took me into the room! And I remember it vividly, except for a moment before he put the mask back on me: I think he might have called me "my child", but I can't remember. But I think he did, because he then kissed me on the forehead. And I liked the way he put on the mask by making you walk into it.

    Gosh, I so want to go back! I missed so much (2 entire floors upstairs, apparently, and some pretty fascinating characters and scenes).

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  9. Oh my goodness! But that's fantastic! I always worry when I talk friends into going, if they don't know Macbeth well, etc, but it sounds like you had a great time (good choice on character follows) and gave yourself over to the incredible experience of this show.

    Of course, you can go over and over and miss so much - I've gone ... seven times at this point, and only on my seventh visit did I have substantial scene repeats (by that point, through sheer diligence, I had managed to catch pretty nearly every major interaction, as well as some fun solo following of characters, so I decided to enjoy myself and revisit some of my favorites).

    The fifth floor (Hospital and forest maze) is a hard floor to find people on, unless you luck into it - and also hard to follow, as the Nurses have a habit of crawling through windows that most of the audience can't - but I, after persistence, had a lot of fun there.

    And the fourth floor, the street shops, is a really fun one for me - much more of the noir experience than the Macbeth one, though, I'd say, except for Macbeth and the rave.

    And don't get me started on how much I love the second floor. Gah! I just love everything about this show. It's one of the most incredible things I've ever seen.

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  10. I didn't keep the card though. I didn't know it was allowed. When he showed it to me, I thought that he meant only that - to show it. So I put the pieces down. But it's OK, I don't feel bad about it.
    I was really careful with the things in general. It was irritating to see how some people behaved: one guy just sat there in Duncan's path when he was in his bedroom and wouldn't move until Duncan literally had to step over him (even then, he sat for a bit before finally standing up). Another guy was moving the lamp around and the bottle, when they were playing cards in the speakeasy.

    I was even careful with follows, because I wasn't sure if anyone went backstage at any point. So after the forest, where it was really hard to spot Banquo because of the darkness and I was very close behind him, he started running very fast and I thought he wanted to run away. So after a few seconds of pursuing him I slowed down for a bit to let him escape, but he paused and looked back at me communicating that it was OK. And then again checked back at the staircase. And even after that I thought that when he got to his room and started closing the door, it was finally sign for me to leave. But apparently it wasn't and he left the door open for me :)

    They are so amazing! Another thing I loved, again in connection with Banquo, because the only other person I followed consistently enough to have a lasting impression was Macbeth, but he was tense and focused throughout, and never seemed to interact with anyone from the audience; so, another thing I loved was when, after changing his shirt together with Macbeth, who then left, Banquo started doing acrobatics and every time he flipped over and came back to facing the audience, he was looking directly at me, since I was standing in the dead centre of the wall in front of him.

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  11. That's fantastic! It sounds like he really connected with you. I've read that they'll do that - if they sense an audience member is really *with* them (and not just following to the point of violation of personal space, angling for an interaction, as many do), they'll keep connecting with them throughout. How great that he kept making sure you were with him!!

    I suspect that that could be how I got the 1:1 with him as the Tailor - I followed him for a good part of his cycle early in the night, even leaving the carnation I'd been given at the start on his desk - he picked it up, smelled it, and put it safely by the lamp. So when I found him close to the end, I think he might have recognized me and that's why he let me stay (he gestured for everyone to leave the room, but did not send me out).

    Also, I'm jealous of you for seeing his acrobatics in the luggage room! I've only ever caught the tail-end of that part, but I hear it's incredible.

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  12. Wow, even after 7 times, you didn't fully see it? Funny, because I came across it twice in 1 night (but watched only once, as I followed Macbeth the first time). I thought it was a really easy one to come across, but maybe I won't even find it if I ever go again. Especially because I have a minimal understanding of that space. I'm generally bad with directions (I need a clear map, a picture, - no intuition as far as directions are concerned). Although I always saw the floor demarcations on the stairwell doors, they never meant anything to me other than a number. So, despite running up and down many stairs, apparently I was circling primarily just two floors. And I thought I was let out at the top and went downstairs! :) - because me and some guy were the last 2 people out of the elevator, and the bellhop told us he kept "the best for last. I hope you deserved it." And I walked in on Duncan in his bedroom, though left when he fell asleep and missed the murder, haha! Came back 10 minutes later with Banquo and was beating myself up, because, although Banquo's possessed-like leaps and contortions in the main ballroom were beautiful, I didn't know the show repeats, and so thought that I had missed a key moment for good.

    I read now how a lot of people like to explore the rooms even when they're empty. I was totally the opposite: the moment I lost sight of actors, I was in anguish that I was missing out on action, and would run around restlessly until I found someone. Basically this happened only once in the beginning, and then the whole time I was tailing characters. Maybe if I go so many times as to see absolutely all the scenes and characters, I will finally have enough calm and patience just to inspect the rooms, but I know that will never happen.

    P.S. This is ironic: "I think he whispered "remember me," but alas I cannot remember now." :)

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  13. Well, by 7 times I have fully seen it. But not really until then. I remember that my 5th time, because I basically fled whenever I found a scene I'd already seen (unless I planned to follow a different character afterward), I managed to have a night of nearly all-new experiences. But I am ... a geek.

    Usually I need a map too. It took me a while to really get a handle on certain floors (like finding out where Hecate's bar is hidden). I still tend to get hopelessly lost on the Hospital floor and basically keep going til I find something familiar.

    Also if you were following Macbeth for his entire cycle, you did see more than 2 floors - he goes to the 4th floor for the witches' rave, as well as to murder Banquo, the 3rd floor is his bedroom, the 2nd floor he murders Lady MacDuff and encounters witches, the 1st floor mezz is where he gets Duncan, and of course the ballroom below is where many awesome things happen. :)

    My first visit I did a lot of room exploration, but I'm like you and I wanted to find characters to follow, so once I found someone, I basically just followed various people for the rest of the night. On my final visit, because I had seen so much, I spent more time exploring and investigating rooms (sometimes because I was waiting for a character to show up).

    re: PS - hah! I caught that after I had sent the comment. I'm such a dork. :P

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  14. I'm looking at February dates now and going mad in my mind. I am so happy this show exists and it happened to me! I live off of my obsessions, and while my previous one hadn't waned yet, this came and just displaced everything else in my brain :D

    I went just once, but it already partially cured my fear of the dark and of the preternatural and brought back the desire to paint, which I had abandoned for lack of time!

    :)

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  15. You expressed my thoughts perfectly: I'm just so happy and grateful this show exists, and that I've been able to see it.

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  16. by the way, I forgot to ask: have you ever talked to the cast after the show? or seen them anywhere (since you go to so many productions)?

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  17. I haven't, but I'm a bit of a coward about such things. I get intimidated and all I would be able to think to say is "thank you" - the best I've done is chatting with Maximillian before the show (he loved my name). I understand a lot of the fans when it was in Boston did get very friendly with the cast though, and have come to NY to see them here too.

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  18. I didn't know they even came out to mingle in the lounge, but now I read that they do. Though I'm not sure what I would have or could have said, I think I'd really love to talk to them. But this time there was such a crowd, and my family was tired and they wanted to leave as soon as possible :(

    Who is Maximillian?

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  19. Yeah, I usually leave pretty soon after. I got escorted out to the lounge after the show by one of the Nurses one night (I followed her to final banquet, which we watched from the balcony, and she put her hands on my shoulders and squeezed when the chair got pulled) - she took me by the hand and led me to the lounge after, looking at me the whole while. Then she took off my mask, looked into my eyes, and kissed my cheek.

    (She's my other favorite - Marla Phelan - she was the Second Mrs. De Winter (Agnes Naismith) that had a 1:1 with me too)

    Maximillian is the sort of MC of the lounge - he has a british accent and a tux and mingles about before the show, talking to people, making them feel welcome, etc. And at the end of the night when we all go back to the lounge, he's usually dancing around with either other lounge folk or the audience. :)

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  20. Oh, is he the guy who announces the cards? It was funny with us. When ours got announced, we went up there and found a whole line of people already waiting (they must have lined up the second the previous cards exited, so we called them keeners :P I don't mean to judge, but they were standing in a dark corner for 10 minutes instead of walking around the lounge...dunno, even if they have projects as to how to be let off the elevator, there's still time to get in position once you're in the smaller room. anyways, got carried away...:P); so, we got there, and they all already had their masks, so he came up to us with a stack of them and lifted one up, but it got tangled by the string. he tried to keep his composure and stay in character (i.e. keep the funny condescending airs), and pulled, but it wouldn't work. "haven't you had enough times to practice this?" I asked to tease him :P He tried to go on and said "blow on it", but that didn't work either, so he gave up and said "You're gonna have to get a bottom one". Hehe, fine by me.

    That's amazing what you had with the nurse, wow! The night we went Marla Phelan was playing the Sexy Witch.

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  21. Gah! All this has made me want to go back again! (And again and again) This show is too, too addictive.

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  22. Oh, I just noticed: how come you wrote "McKittridge"? (only saw it now, as I was rushing over words in my excitement :P)

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  23. And you should! They have dates in February and March!

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  24. Oh god ... because I'm stupid. Because I wrote this post the day after I went the first time and I was in a haze of awe and I didn't notice.

    There are unfortunately a number of errors in my recap comments on both this post and the later one (the Spoiler-Free Guide post) that were mostly due to my not-always-perfect memory or mixing up characters (Jordan, who often played the Boy Witch against Nicholas Bruder's Macbeth, had too similar a haircut, and I used to get them mixed up a lot). I also believe that I alternate how I spell Mrs. Dewinter's name (and that's not even her name in the NY production, so I'm doubly wrong). I haven't gone back and corrected merely because it seems a bit antithetical to go back and edit old blog entries.

    So my summaries (and names for characters) are unfortunately not always fully accurate (though they get more so with each subsequent comment, as they're more recent and reflect a more comprehensive memory and knowledge of the show), but I have a pretty good idea in my head at this point who is who and what happens when. Ah well. The imperfections of posting your ramblings publicly online. :)

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  25. I know what you mean: memories get confusing in my mind too. The fact that it loops exacerbates that in the sense that I can't be sure what I saw before/after what. Oh well, I will have a chance to clear things up bit in February, as I did buy tickets today :)

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  26. For the best one on one moment on the initial elevator ride up you should be the person to get off when the elevator door opens the first time. It is the only way to get to the top floor and experience a specific one on one. Afterwards you are let go at the top of the stairs, above the hospital floor.

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  27. Sdc, I have tried this I can't tell you how many times! But they don't go to the sixth floor on every elevator ride (since that particular 1:1 takes a while), and I've never won the luck of the draw there. But I'm wildly jealous (and simultaneously happy for you) that you've gotten that experience!

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  28. I was in the very 1st group and in position to be 1st off the elevator, still no stop on secret top floor :(

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  29. Zelda, I went last night! I'm going again tonight. OMG. Once again it took over my mind and I haven't done anything productive today yet - just thinking, reading, writing about it :) It's destructive in a way.

    Last night I noticed the audience's rudeness. It was very discouraging. One woman was so pushy I felt intimidated by her. I wanted to go after characters I saw very little of last time, so first I picked Malcolm. At one point he went into a pitch black side room somewhere on the 4th floor. I wanted to follow, but there was literally no indication of any light. I felt the walls a bit, but after discovering that this room had a door, I decided against the chance of being trapped here in total darkness and left. This room was just where MacDuff did some solo climbing on walls. But Malcolm never came back out, I just caught up with him later somewhere else. And that woman was there again, so I figured that she is so determined to get her 1-1 that she will simply ruin everything for me, and so I picked the Boy Witch after the banquet.

    He was so fun! Just the way he looks at you mockingly and mischievously. I later found out that he was played by Conor Doyle, who is the choreographer, the people who worked there told me. I didn't think they'd be in the actual show. Maybe the dancer for the part got sick or something.

    And by the way, that terrible woman was on his heels at one point too. I mean, of all the people running after everyone, she was the only one who exuded her one determination: to get a 1-1. It was very clear and such a turn-off.

    But anyway, I hope today is better in that sense. I got a question for you though (or, rather, a few): when I just got off the elevator on the 4th floor, there was a man in the candy shop. He later went to a different shop (with an open coffin), sat a desk and started looking through papers. He did it for such along time that I lost patience and left, and didn't see him again. But I remember him from last time, when I noticed him here and there, just sort of spying on the action. Would you know who that is?

    And also, how to identify the tailor and the taxidermist? I don't think I've ever even seen them, but I hear they are cool and interesting characters.

    Thanks!

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  30. Elisa, I agree - rude audience members are incredibly off-putting, and are part of the reason I'm hesistant to go back at this point. Since I have seen nearly all of the interactions (though not all the solo moments or 1:1s) I don't follow as aggressively, but the other side of that is I feel much more pushed around by audience members with agendas. I'm sorry this woman damaged your experience.

    It's a pity you didn't follow Malcolm into that side room! I've seen him use it twice - once, right after the card game, when he and MacDuff have a silent interrogation, swinging a lamp back and forth - usually only 5 or fewer audience members squeeze in before the door is slammed shut and the scene happens. The other time he uses it is for his 1:1 (he goes into the other narrow room just beyond that one - but he's usually dragging someone with him, as he selects his 1:1 while still in the detective agency.

    I'm glad you had such a good time following the Boy Witch though - I remember once following him as he sprinted up 3 flights, across the floor, then down another flight, where he indicated I should go watch the Macbeths instead. :-/ After all that running! And HOW COOL that it was the choreographer!!! ::dying slightly::

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  31. I'll try to answer your last questions first, because they're easier: The Taxidermist is played by the same fellow who takes you up in the elevator, which means he's not part of the show for the first hour/arc. When he does show up he's wearing an apron (I think a black rubber one? But my memory here is fuzzy) and stays mostly I think to the area around his shop, and the office behind it. There might also be some interaction with the witches though (they interact with everyone, don't they?).

    The Tailor I like a lot, and have seen large parts of his arc. He spends a quiet ten minutes hemming a pair of pants in his shop (and inserting a cut out piece of text into the lining), he has an interaction with Agnes Naismith (girl with the suitcase) when she comes into his shop - they dance with fabric - and then he runs down to the sweet shop for a bit (while she steals his money). I think he samples some of the candy, then brings back a bouquet for Agnes. They dance more, but then she rejects him. He follows her onto the street, but I think then she goes to her own quarters and shuts the door. I think it is here that he sits and hems the pants, often looking up and across the street to where she was. I think sometime after this is when he takes his umbrella and goes to both the ruined courtyard (watching through the windowed walls the Macbeths fight in their bedroom) and the graveyard - sometimes he buries a bird, but I think sometimes he doesn't. He kneels and prays or sings. The other part of his arc I've seen is that he watches the card game in the speakeasy through the wall of boxes, and part of the fight after, but flees quickly and hides in the undertaker's shop, watching through the window Macbeth and Lady Macbeth find each other on the street. His 1:1 happens somewhere around this time. His arc restarts when he comes through Agnes's wardrobe, watches her sleep, and then covers her with her shawl. He also spends a lot of time looking at things fearfully on the street. He wears a suit (I know, really helpful there, Zelda).

    That was probably the Tailor that you spotted when you got off on the 4th floor, actually. It obviously couldn't have been the Taxidermist yet. The other men who frequent that floor are the Speakeasy Barman/Hecate's Familiar (but I don't think he goes into the Undertaker's shop) and Malcolm/Detective. I think Macduff and Banquo are really only on that floor for the speakeasy, and Macbeth for that and for the rave in Hecate's bar.

    The hard thing, of course, with recognizing people is all the double casting - for instance, it was quite unnerving, when last I went, to see Nicholas Bruder, whom I am used to seeing as Macbeth, as the Boy Witch. And then my favorite, Jeffery Lyon, who is sometimes Banquo, sometimes the Tailor. Or Marla Phelan, who I have seen as Agnes, the Matron, Sexy Witch, and now Catherine Campbell. Aieee!

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  32. Oh, btw, Elisa - I went last week (Valentines Day), and finally got to see all of the luggage room acrobatics! He looked at me too! I was beyond thrilled. I also managed to score the 1:1 with Banquo again. He did indeed lean into my ear and whisper "Remember me" as I was leaving the room. I nodded, and he backed up and shut the door.

    Other fun tidbits from that night - after Macbeth was hung and his body carried out, I noticed I was standing right next to Jeffery Lyon/Banquo. He seemed as startled as me (the faker), and then, very slowly, reached out to remove my mask. :) :) :)

    And - this doesn't count as a 1:1, but I saw the Boy Witch, also in the luggage area, flailing and spinning on the counter. He locked eyes with me, leapt from the counter, put his arms around my neck and backed me into the wall, before saying lasciviously, "Helloooo."

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  33. I remember why Jeffery Lyon is your favourite ;) I really like him too though. For example, last night Banquo was played by Tony Bardonaro, and he has a very different way of coming to the banquet as a ghost. he comes in a very determined and tense way, and really stares at Macbeth the whole time he walks to his seat, and mutters something at him through clenched teeth. While J.Lyon had an uncertain, limping gait and kind of a creepy empty stare (directed ahead, not at Macbeth) - much more ghostly overall (coming from my deep knowledge of ghosts, of course).
    And last night J.Lyon was in the elevator, so it means he was the taxidermist too! Wow, sad I missed that; I really want to see what it is that he does, which is so disgusting apparently :D

    With Malcolm - not sure he went there for a 1-1. I mean, I was with him for a long time in the beginning. After I left the tailor (apparently) with his papers, I saw Malcolm run by crying, and went after him (btw, he was played by the man who was in place of Maximilian the night we went - his name is Ben Thys). He went into his office, spent a lot of time there, had a scene with a woman with a photograph (who was your other favourite - Marla Phelan :)), and then he went through a side door behind the desk in his own office. He went through a lot of such doors. But he definitely didn't have a 1-1 with anyone. That moment in the dark room just seemed unlikely, because he didn't even turn back, let alone grab me. So I thought maybe he simply needed his own shortcut. But he also seemed a bit sick yesterday blowing his nose all the time, so maybe they cut the 1-1 not to infect anyone? :P Maybe, if chance takes to that spot tonight, I'll be braver and go farther inside...

    My favourite thing is to follow one character for an entire loop. And I managed that with the Boy Witch without losing him despite his long runs (I had to catch my breath a few times, but he always seemed perfectly cool - impressive!). Oh, and I noticed one more thing. I'm still not sure if these two women were real audience members, or "plants". Because they moved in a very slow and assured way among the cast, sometimes getting very close to them and even showing their cards. I've never seen anyone show their cards, so it was a wtf moment for me. And then, when one of them was so in the face, the Boy Witch walked with her across the lobby to sing his song. He sat her at a chair, and she immediately kind of slid down a bit, and then was moving along to his singing. It was in fact very vulgar, I thought, as he was opening and closing her legs. Right at him. So...I don't know. But they were wearing white masks. Not sure what she was going for. He didn't end up picking her for the 1-1 (he picked me - yay! so cool! :)) Have you ever seen people do that, or heard of it? Do you know if they have these plants for further provocation?

    Oh, and I had such a mind trick last night, I still can't believe how it happened. As I never saw Malcolm's entire loop, after the last ballroom scene I thought to go after him. He was dancing with the Boy Witch, and at the end of the dance darted away from him as if he hurt him in some way. So I ran after Malcolm as he rushed out only to discover it was MacDuff!...Still no clue how that happened, still amazed :)

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  34. Hmm, perhaps he wasn't doing it that night. Usually, after his interaction with Agnes and the photograph, he goes back into the inner part of his office, examining evidence. Usually he'll pick an audience member who is also focused on the evidence and hold eye contact. Then he'll retrieve an egg from a drawer, start to leave, then offer the egg to the audience member. When the audience member holds out a hand for the egg, Malcolm instead grabs that hand and pulls that person off to the interrogation room for the 1:1.

    That audience behavior is very odd, and I don't remember hearing or reading about it before - especially the showing of cards. The one thing like it I've read is sometimes people show their cards to the bartender in the speakeasy when he is pouring drinks. Probably these were repeat attenders, and (I assume) drunk. Because ... seriously? Ew.

    Tell me about the 1:1 with the Boy Witch!

    I had a similar mind trick the first time I went! I was sprinting after the Sexy Witch after the Rave, and though I was following closely, when I turned a corner she had completely disappeared!

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  35. Wow, just realized that I had missed your last tidbit from Valentine's night! Haha. So glad for your little moment with J.Lyon at the end there :) And the Boy Witch - he is so mischievous!

    OK, so let me tell you about our 1-1. He finished the song and went over to the counter where the porter gave him a tissue, as he had tears in his eyes. There was, of course, a semicircle of people around. He then looked at me for a moment and slowly extended his hand with the tissue. I'm not sure he recognized me, but he very well might have, as by then I'd been following him for a long time, and at one point he gave me his jacket to hold and then had me help him put it on (not after the shower, this was way before, early on in the loop). And from time to time our eyes would meet - his always had a curious/mocking expression :) So anyway, he is giving me his tissue. I thought for a sec "whoa, nice present, used tissue!", but of course I reached out to take it. And he locked his fingers with mine and pulled me closer to him, and then started guiding my hand to wipe his eyes and face with the tissue. Then he looked me in the eyes for a moment again, this time he wasn't mocking, because he was apparently sad. Then he ran toward the phone booths and I ran after, since we were still holding hands. He drew the curtain, I got inside, then he, and then he tucked the curtain behind both of our backs so that no one would see inside between the curtain and the wall. There he put his hands on my shoulders, looked at me, then fainted and collapsed for a second. I tried to help him up, but there was very little space there, and he recovered very quickly. He got back up, produced a necklace from somewhere which he put on me. By this time he was back in a merry mood, and so was I, especially because it was funny that the mask was making it awkward putting on the necklace. We kind of smiled, and then he burst out laughing, and at this point I did too :) Then he kissed me slightly under the mask, just along the jawline, sort of between the cheek and the throat, you know? And then we got back out. There were still people there. I guess they could see our silhouettes through the curtain.

    And that's how it went - very fun!

    But let me tell you about last night. Zelda, omg! The best night ever! It started off with the 6th floor! I think this was the most frightening experience at the McKittrick for me so far. But it had a good ending, of course - sweet and sad. I think you may already know what happens, so I won't detail it. But I had no clue, so yes, I got scared.

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  36. After, as I was descending, I was thinking where to go and who to pick. And I still wanted to see the tailor and the taxidermist. So with that thought I was about to open the door to the 4th floor, when it opened for me and none other than the tailor came out! Luck was with me all through that night - from beginning to end! So I and a several other people followed him to the graveyard, then to the funeral shop. Everyone left, but I stayed to see his act with the Sexy Witch. I walked with him basically for some more time until at one point he darted off through the back door of the tailor shop, where I lost him, because some slow people were just standing in the doorway. Once he ran back to the funeral shop very quickly and shut all the doors. I don't know if there was anyone left inside or not. But I did catch up with him at some point later. I never saw any of his love story, not even once did he meet Agnes Naismith, but I got a different narrative from him. He was very fearful of the witches, curses and dark forces, and he tried to protect himself through amulets and charms. He seemed the only one fully aware of them and who could see them. He witnessed part of the orgy from the hallway, then went back to his shop forlorn. He was reading the Holy Book, putting pins inside a bird, etc. And Hecate did not come into his shop, only looked at him through the windows. but she did walk through the taxidermist's shop and even clutched his face,but I guess a fellow like him, who digs up bones in cemeteries, is not all pure himself (though he did look disgusted by her). In sum, I enjoyed the tailor's story, even though it was totally different than what is usually described, and I did not see bits of it. But he was human; vulnerable and scared, but also determined to protect himself and succeeding.

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  37. I also had good times with Malcolm! He was played by William Popp, to my great delight (I don't know exactly why, but I don't like B.Thys very much - the only cast member who I instinctively dislike a little bit...). In fact, a lot of the principal characters were the same as my first time (Banquo, Duncan, Bald Witch, Malcolm, Lady Macbeth, Lady MacDuff), which was somehow reassuring. When I saw that J.Lyon was Banquo, I was so happy, but at the same time sad, because I'd wished he were a different character, so I could follow him. I had already seen his entire loop, including the 1-1, and although I really love his choreography throughout (especially the "possessed" dance in the ballroom right before Duncan's murder), I figured it would be wiser to go after someone new. But once again chance had other plans :) I followed Malcolm until he came to shave Duncan, and decided to watch something else, with the intention to catch up with him again after the ballroom scene. As I walked out of Duncan's quarters, I stumbled upon the chapel, by accident, just like my first time. I didn't remember it was there, and just grazed the curtain with my hand and...discovered Banquo and the Bald Witch! Since I knew they would also end up at the ballroom, I thought it was a good idea to stay and watch. This dance was also beautifully choreographed, as I had vaguely remembered. After she left with a small group, I stayed back with some other people. Then Banquo took off and somehow I was the only one who bolted after him. At least I was the first. I thought he'd go to meet Duncan and Malcolm, but gradually I started realizing that he was running toward his room! I thought the 1-1 happened right after the moving trees. So as I understood what was about to happen, I felt it would be weird for me to go in again, and decided to stay back this time. Maybe there would be someone else? So my plan was to reach the room, but not go in. But memory failed me once again. Since he was stopping from to time and looking back to make sure I was following, when I saw him peeking from behind the corner at the end of the stairs, I thought he was doing that again. But he was already inside his room! I have no clue how I misremembered these things, but I ended up one foot in the room. Now it would be embarrassing to walk out. Plus, I didn't really want to. So my 1-1 happened again :) But honestly, there was nothing else I had rather be doing at that time - I really enjoyed it.

    And after the ballroom, I caught up with Malcolm. W.Popp wasn't running very fast, it seemed to me. Last night B.Thys was sometimes almost flying, and that's what I generally heard about Malcolm - that he is very hard to keep up with, but not this time. Not too many people were following him this time (the first half of the loop, before shaving Duncan, there were around 15 people in that office, to the point where it was very hard to do the scene with Agnes Naismith), and I was first. And I thought I caught him looking at my feet from the corner of his eye, from under the brim of the hat. Anyway, back in his office's backroom he looked at some feather, then just sat there crouching on the floor. About 4-5 of us were also present. Then he looked at my feet again, and then at my face. He got up, walked past me to the front of the office, but then turned around and extended his hand. So cool! I kind of believe that he remembered my shoes from before, because it wasn't quite as you described. He didn't look at any eggs there (they came later, in private), but there was someone very close to him looking at the same stuff. But he picked my shoes :P

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  38. So by this point I'm just so happy I'm almost levitating. I needed only to find the taxidermist for complete bliss. I was doubly excited, because I saw who it was in the elevator: the incredibly cute Joe Poulson :) So here I am, walking all over 4th floor and he is nowhere to be seen. By this time I had spent so much time here with the tailor and Malcolm, that I decided to go look somewhere else. Went back onto the staircase and downstairs. As I was about to open the door of the 3rd floor, once again it opened for me and I see none other than the taxidermist! Imagine? I know :) Lady Luck, guiding me by the hand the whole time, I'm telling you. I guess he was coming from the cemetery with a bone wrapped in a cloth. He went to his shop, looked at it a bit, then Hecate walked by. There was quite a crowd, which surprised me both for him and the tailor - minor characters, yet still. Then he went to the back office to the wall covered in skins and it turned out to be the bathroom where the Boy Witch showers! I had no idea.He unlocked it and started washing his face. I was at the front of the crowd again and had a very good view, but decided to take a step inside out of courtesy, so that more people could come closer and maybe, if someone wanted to go inside the bathroom and closer to him, I wouldn't be blocking the door. But no one moved. So when he finished and turned around, I was the only one standing in the actual bathroom (though very very close to the door and literally part of the semicircle). Still, he closed the door and we were alone. Then he took off my mask and lead me to the other cabin. The whole time he had such a kind smile on his face, which was impossible not to return, that I wasn't scared at all, though I knew that the 1-1 was supposed to be creepy. I thought he'd throw a dead animal or bird turned inside out at me, all blood and skin and everything. That's what I was kind of expecting :P I mean, he's a taxidermist. When he started closing the door and leaving me in the dark, I started freaking out and holding on to him. He had to calm me down and whisper that he'd be right back (just like on the 6th floor; I acted like such a child, but I didn't care :P). But then he comes back with the candies (which I thought were pieces of candle at first and didn't clue in right away) and the syringe. And just looks at me with that impish smile. I was unsure. Definitely not creepy as I thought, but something was up. When he took my hand I freaked out again, but after I saw that he was dealing just with the candy, and seeing what he did to it, I just couldn't contain myself and started giggling. It was just really funny. I think his face had to do with it too: I heard other actors try to get their creep on, but he was just like a little boy up to no good. And I felt like his accomplice. So we both just ended up giggling like two silly giddy children. He took the "good" candy, and I got the "poisoned" one. And he was just looking at me in expectation. I pushed his into his mouth first, then ate mine. Still laughing. Then he grabbed me tightly and we ran all the way to Hecate's bar, and honestly, we were giggling the whole way. I just had so much fun with him! Not creepy at all.

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    1. My God he really is bewitching isn't he!

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  39. And then. He pushed me right to the middle of the crowd watching Hecate eat, so everyone noticed me, including her. She stared for so long that I thought she wanted me to sit next to her, but when I made a step, she disapproved. So I just stayed there. I honestly didn't need anything anymore, because I came wanting to see the taxidermist's 1-1, as well as the tailor's and Malcolm's entire arcs. I got all that and some more, so i was the most contented person ever. But she would often look at me and maintain long eye contact. I'm pretty good at that, so no one could out-stare the other. When she coughed up the ring, after long deliberation, she decided to give it to me. And she held my hand there for the longest time, looking in my eyes. So this was very much a 1-1 for me, despite all the people. Then she went into her room with someone else, and I left.
    I ended up in the speakeasy just before the card game. Was once again surprised at some people. There were women sitting on all the boxes there, which is OK when it's empty. Then, the performers came and my instinct is always to step out of their way, give them space. Even if I hope for the 1-1, I never get in their face. These women wouldn't budge. I mean, even if you don't know the scene and that these seats are needed, when the three of them are tightly around the table, you'd think it was time to move, no? Well, these ladies had to be actually moved by the actors.

    Anyway, I ended up watching the interrogation again, and it was so much better than the night before, because there were only 3 spectators (compared to 7-8 the previous night)! Much more room and thus much better view.

    And then there was the final banquet. I find Paul Zivkovich is so good and convincing! I love what he does in the hanging scene! Someone from the audience even gave out a yelp this time! :)

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  40. Anyway, that was the end. But not really. Because after, in Manderley, I saw so many actors. Pretty much all of them, actually, except for Nick Bruder. But I TALKED to so many of them! First it was Careena Melia. I went up to her to compliment on her performance, obviously. Then I was just kind of standing around, when I realized that the black woman who sometimes plays the Bald Witch (but this time was the servant) was standing talking to her friend right in front of me. I didn`t really have anything to say to her, but i just stood there looking at them. Suddenly P.Zivkovich stopped by, but he only said hello and didn`t really talk to them. And he saw me and said hi to me, and we just started talking. He was so wonderful, and we talked for a really long time. I mean an actual conversation, and not just "you were great, thank you". Yay! I also talked to Joe Poulson, because I just had to tell him how funny he was! And Haylee Nichele, for being so lovely and patient and for comforting me when I was scared. I even saw Evan form the famous tumblr account dedicated to the show, and we chatted too. he is also very lovely. At that point I decided to leave (and die happy :D), when I saw J.Lyon. And I really really wanted to tell him how great I thought he was, but it took me a few moments to compose myself. I didn't want to appear like some groupie, but I also knew I would really regret not doing it. So I went up to him too, and he was just amazing in person! He seems so different from his character. His Banquo, seems to me, has this delicate, gentle, almost fragile quality. Never once does it seem like he is posing, ever. He is sincere, serious, but not too serious. Anyway, in person J.Lyon seems like such a goofball :) I told him that my favourite scene was his "possessed" dance, and he explained it to me. Then P.Zivkocih appeared out of nowhere again and said to me:"Oh, I see you're chatting up to people, that's good." Haha. The three of us chatted for bit longer, they teased me a bit, and then I finally left.

    OK, so I realize that I pretty much wrote a chapter of a novel here recounting my entire night to you, but i hope it does not bore you. I'm sure you understand this need to tell the story, which I already did verbally, but I find it good to have it in writing somewhere, because one forgets. Though I hope you enjoyed reading it too.

    To sum up: go again,and talk to them!

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  41. Oh, and I forgot: at one point, about 15 minutes after my encounter with the taxidermist, I was following the tailor again when he passed through Bargarran's shop. He was at the counter this time, wearing a lab coat. So I went up to his counter to see what he was up to, as the tailor was beginning to repeat something I had already seen. As soon as I approached he looked up at me, took my hand, and led me out of the shop. There, in the hallway, he slightly lifted my mask, saw my face, and we both cracked up again. He let me go, and I had to leave.
    When I talked to him after the show, tried to explain that I wasn't hogging his attention, but didn't expect a repeat 1-1 so soon after the previous one. He said that his character did that, and also not to worry, because he chose me himself. I said I thought he recognized me and that's why led me out, but he replied that he wasn't sure, so wanted to check.

    :)

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  42. Another addendum. Pretty terrible, but I can't focus on many other things, and just read your other post about McKittrick, the spoiler-free guide (with a ton of spoilers in the comments). One thing you wrote there: "the witches aren't always who they appear". What does this mean? Is it more than a reference to the wig?

    Oh, and in the 1-1 with Malcolm, did he cough up a feather into your hand? (used tissue, saliva-covered feather - only some of the wonderful things we get to touch inside the McKittrick!)

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  43. Malcolm and the feather are a new addition, from what I hear - he did not cough up a feather with me.

    The comment about the witches was 2 things - yes, 1 was the wig, because I was genuinely confused my first time about who this tall (but not bald) female witchy lady was. The other was the fact that the Boy Witch I kept seeing the first few times, Jordan, had a really similar build, haircut, and facial hair to Nicholas Bruder, playing Macbeth, and that confused me too.

    But I figured it can be helpful, or at least an added note of mystery in scenes like the ballroom dance, when they're acting more like regular party guests except at the beginning and the end.

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  44. I'm a fellow fan of Sleep No More and just saw it for a third time last week. I had a one on one with Malcolm (my 1st ever) and he did indeed cough a feather up and put it in my palm. The whole experience was intense!

    As soon as I got into the hotel, I went right up to the 4th floor and found Malcolm in the detective agency. I was literally the only one with him in his dark room and when he turned around and stared at me, I did not break his gaze once. Talk about creepy! Then he took me by the arm and brought me into the side room, crushed an egg in my hand and pushed me up against the wall as he held a magnifying glass into my face. Totally intense experience that I just cannot get out of my mind!

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  45. Zelda, Jeff Lyon is leaving SNM! :(

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  46. At the end of May, so...right about now :(
    Although they said he is taking a break, but what if he doesn't come back?

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  47. readin elisa & zelda's conversation was entertaining in itself! so much to tel!

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  48. Elisa, please, please tell us about the 6th floor!!!

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  49. haha, thanks, Britt :)

    Oeilade, I wouldn't want to be the one spoiling it, although by now there is a great amount of detailed descriptions online. Here's one, which was made public very early on in the show's run, but which I somehow missed entirely - and thank God! - before I went up there myself.

    Read at your own discretion: http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater-dance/sleep-no-more-a-macbeth-full-of-sound-and-fury--and-fear/2011/04/18/AFGndVPE_story.html

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