NEW YORK — Geez, I would hate to go through this alone,” said my friend John as we made our way in the dark down a winding corridor. So would I, I thought, glad we were trailing about a dozen others, all of us a bit disoriented in our masquerade masks with protruding beaks. White and hollow-eyed, they made us look like ghost birds.
Ghosts, darkness, shades of anxiety — welcome to the immersive experience of Punchdrunk Theatre. The London-based company has taken over three adjacent warehouses in Chelsea and decorated more than 100 antique-cluttered, dimly lit rooms inside for its production called “Sleep No More,” an Alfred Hitchcock-inspired adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The idea is, the audience wanders at will through the rooms and corridors, piecing together a narrative from the scattered personal effects and hints of lives lived there. Occasionally performers will burst into a room to enact a scene; you can follow them or poke about in the vast labyrinth at your own pace. It’s a fully functional feedback loop, customized by you, perfect for Twitter-age attention spans. But this isn’t faddish hipster ephemera. Far from it. Chances are, you’ll walk away from “Sleep No More” obsessing over its myriad details, chewing over your peculiarly intoxicating trip in a way no traditional theatergoing can match.