The McKittrick Hotel is not some swanky resort, nor is it a broken down roach motel somewhere on route 66. The McKittrick is a theatre installation — if you accept the phrase, put on by Punchdrunk and Emursive (two sweet theatre groups). The show is called Sleep No More NYC, and it’s Macbeth. The point of the show is that you get to interact with the characters and witness the private moments in their lives. I watched a fight between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth over the decision of murdering Duncan. I watched the revelry of Hecate and the witches after Macbeth committed the murder. I wandered through the halls of the McKittrick, and read the secret papers of Macbeth, Macduff, and Banquo. Each room smelled different, each place had its own feeling, and it was all enhanced by the anonymity of the mask each guest of the hotel had to wear.
The feelings that place inspired in me, fear, excitement, curiosity, etc. reminded me of a book. Yeah, weird right? Most things remind me of books, but this time it was less of the idea of the book and more the feelings the places in the book were meant to inspire. That book is (drumroll please): The Night Circus
This story has a specific feeling to it. There’s a storyline, and a cast of characters, but they almost take a backseat to the circus itself.
The circus is a greater character to follow than you would think. Through the perspective of the human characters you see the ways in which they are manipulating the circus. Adding rides and tents, and snacks. Morgenstern turns to a third party at that point to show the circus through those who are unused to the atmosphere, and you see it through a new set of eyes. First those of Heir Thiessen who stumbles upon the circus by accident and is so overcome by the sights and sounds that he takes to writing about them. Then a little boy who sees the circus for the first time, and most often a general third party voice that bids you to imagine yourself in the circus, and you follow your path as the section sees fit.
Going to the McKittrick, walking through each section of the warehouse, up stairs, through narrow hallways, and through strange doors brought back to me the feeling of the Night Circus. (Especially since I attended the saturday show in which “events culminate at 2am”) I was genuinely awed, particularly at one point when I was walking through a dirt-packed graveyard and thought “Wait am I still inside?” Mainly due to the scent of fresh damp dirt.
Essentially if you want a singular novelized experience, read the Night Circus, you won’t regret it. It’s departures from its original narrative (think Steinbeck in Grapes of Wrath, but no turtles ambling across the street.) make the experience of the novel more complete. Also If you get the chance to check out Sleep No More NYC, DO IT. Make a run to the warehouse now and buy your ticke. I guarantee you will love every second of the time you spend there.