A Spoiler-Free Primer for Sleep No More in New York City

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(Credit: Allison Meier)

Preparing for Sleep No More

Before you arrive at Sleep No More, remember these tips:

  • Concerning attire. Dress formally, but dress light — you’ll be chasing the actors a lot, and if you’re going to the after party, it’s pretty sweaty because of the sheer number of bodies. Also, the environment has been engineered in such a way that you’re supposed to forget that the outside world exists. Don’t wear polo shirts and jeans! They’re not 1930’s formal attire and it breaks the experience for everyone if you don’t fit into the environment.
  • When they say wear sensible shoes, they mean it. Wear shoes you can run in. When you’re following the actors, you’re always afraid you’ll miss something. You’re often running up and down many flights of stairs to keep up with them.
  • Skip accoutrements. Don’t bring a coat or a bag, unless you’re okay with paying to check it, because you’ll be forced to when you arrive. (If you wear a dress, try wearing one with pockets.) Because you’re wearing a mask the entire time, it’s a good idea to wear contact lenses instead of glasses.
  • Turn off your goddamn phone.

Inside Sleep No More

Once you’re inside, you want to use your time wisely, because those three hours go by quickly. Here are some important things to know:

  • Be the first. Although each cycle repeats, when you first enter the performance with the earliest tickets, certain “triggers” are in place that don’t get reset with each cycle. For example, in the shipping/cargo room, one of the actors is hiding in a cargo container and comes out to interact with you if you open the container. In subsequent cycles he is no longer in the container. Each cycle concludes with the banquet hall on the bottom-most level (although the final cycle has a surprise).
  • Go it alone. Don’t try exploring the space with your friends/significant other. You’ll want to follow whatever captures your interest and not have to negotiate with someone else about where to go in a split second.
  • Follow the music. When the music reaches a crescendo, that means something is happening wherever it’s playing. If you can’t find an actor, follow the music.
  • Look for one-on-one opportunities. The actors each have their own secret interactions that you can “unlock” if you’re in the right place at the right time. These interactions are usually reserved for just you or a small group of spectators, and shut off from the rest of the audience. For example, one of the female witches will entice several people to approach a locked door, and then invite only one person to enter. Within the locked room, the witch has a private interaction with you. Other actors will whisper secrets into your ear if you hang out with them long enough.
  • Fortune favors the bold. As the host tells you, Fortune favors the bold, so keep close to the actors. But be careful not to anticipate their behaviors, because they tend to prefer interacting with newbies rather than repeat visitors.
  • Follow the witches. If you don’t know who to follow, latch on to any of the witches. Two are female and one is male: they will lead you to the most exciting scenes.
  • Try to be the last person to enter the elevator. You may be rewarded for your hesitation.
  • Stand your ground. This is New York, after all, and if you’re timid you’ll get shouldered out of being the person closest to an actor.

Maximilian’s List

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(Credit: Daniel Quinn)
  • …But worth the cost. In terms of cost, you get that $100 in food and drink back during the dinner/after party. My Maximilian’s List tickets came with a buffet dinner and open bar in Gallow Green, a rooftop bar connected to the McKittrick, and then an after party following Sleep No More. They served wine and cocktails, entrees like roasted lamb and octopus legs, passed hors ‘deouvres that included weird stuff like pickled strawberries, and rhubarb pie with melted ice cream for dessert. Considering a drink usually costs $14 in Manhattan and a comparably elaborate dinner is at least $40 a plate, two drinks and the meal is worth $70 already. Order a couple more drinks in the after show and you’ve about made up the cost of the List.
  • You get an extra performance. You are treated to a special pre-show mini-play, in our case the Sacrifice of Iphigenia. This is a half-hour seated performance.
  • The after party is fun. The after party is basically a big concert with open bars and partitioned off lounges. Getting to the after party is confusing because everyone (regular show attendees and Maximilian List guests) are sardined into the Manderley Bar immediately after Sleep No More ends, but you can’t get into the after party until about an hour later, when they open up the concert hall area. As a Maximilian guest you’re entitled to free drinks, so don’t pay for any while you’re waiting. In my case, the after party also included a photo booth, where my date and I got star treatment and a free Polaroid of our best shot.

Web designer, RPG hobbyist, scifi writer at dquinn.net. Cohost of worldbuildwithus.com. My favorite holiday is Halloween and I believe in Oxford commas.

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