I’ve had a pretty rough month. So in an attempt to punch sadness in the face, I’m going to do a recap (which I usually don’t do) and illustrate it! Because art and levity make life worth living. Consider this a love letter to Sleep No More and a last hoorah for my drawing tablet, which I had to leave at home now that I’ve flown back to school.
I know, Sad Porter, life can stink. But we put some lipstick on, fix our disheveled hair, and dance with our sheets until we feel better.
This’ll be long and filled with pictures, so click the ‘Read More’ to see the rest.
BACKGROUND: Once upon a time I bought a few SNM tickets for myself as a ‘good job passing your first year of medical school’ gift. The first night was great fun. The second night was strange, sad, poignant and sort of cathartic. The third night…had to be moved because of funeral services. I chose Monday the 7th for the switch. On Friday night/early Saturday, another loved one had to be taken to the hospital (at least I diagnosed what it was! this degree isn’t useless so far!) where she stayed for a week with an acute, but manageable issue (she’s fine now!). And THEN, because when it rains, it bloody well pours, on Sunday I got ambushed by a fever.
But you know what? Life does not stop being difficult because you are on holiday from school. Life is life. Take your perks when you jolly well can. I sucked it up and went.
Things felt off the whole time. I was weak after overcoming the fever from the day before. I had just barely completed thank-you artwork for a few cast members, and I was furiously trying to finish writing notes for them on the backs of the illustrations while I was in line to go inside (to the staff member who eventually delivered them, you are outstanding, sir). The resulting letters were probably some of the most ineloquent ramblings known to mankind. (“But it’s ok, because that’s what fan mail is all about, right?” she asked, penning this really long tumblr entry which is essentially public fan mail.)
I was exploring and saw Nick Bruder was Porter. I watched him as Porter on an earlier trip months ago, so I left him to shuffle around in his melancholy. I really do enjoy his reset dance, though, so I drew a little doodle to mark my appreciation above. Nick Bruder, you are aces. I hope you are never Porter-levels of sad.
I mustache you a question. Does this moonlight go with my hair? Do I certainly know the right thing to wear?
I had decided earlier that I wanted to see what exactly happens after Duncan is placed in the crypt. I had no idea it would be Sam Meredith! I watched him lay there, swaddled like a giant baby, only a baby with a huge, well groomed mustache. But in all seriousness, he was great (his eyes in particular looked so harrowed after he was a ghost). And his mustache is indeed quite regal. His dance with Mariel Lugosch-Ecker was lovely. Barely anybody else was around, so it felt all the more intimate and graceful. The fact that she takes her hair down is a lovely touch.
Alejandro Alvarez as Macbeth (not that you can really tell, but whatever). He was as powerful and conflicted as can be! This is supposed to be him during the rave, I guess. Hello, tiny pine tree!
I spied Alejandro Alvarez as Macbeth looking down at the partiers during the big ballroom number. I thought to find him later. Then I waited until after the banquet scene to follow where he goes.
This did not quite happen. In the usual mad rush people are in to follow Macbeth, I’m fairly certain someone either tripped me or pushed me off-balance, because I fell. It was horrifying and hilarious and I broke the silence completely and let out a very loud “Whoop!” before my mask flew right up and off and my face had a 1:1 with the floor.
It looked like this:
This gif is a 300% accurate representation of what happened. Well, maybe not, but I did slide, and it MUST have been funny to any other onlooker.
I wasn’t disoriented, and it wasn’t an emergency, but you must remember I was still sick, so the fall just amplified my tiredness threefold. You have to have a certain energy, a certain swagger, to get around the McKittrick and not be bogged down by hand-holders and hip-checkers and the like. I don’t know if I even had said energy to begin with that night, but I certainly lost it after I faceplanted. I half-heartedly tried to follow the Macbeths (I think this may have been where I saw Macbeth dance in the graveyard, but I’m not sure), and then just gave up and waited for the 2nd floor entrance to the Manderley to open.
As soon as it did, I spotted Cassandra sitting alone in the round booth and parked myself next to her.
Do you see the girl in the middle who can’t believe her luck? That’d be me.
Cassandra, Maximilian, and Annabella tended to me like a wounded bird. Sitting and talking to them was the best decision I made all night.
Cassandra! (Julia Campanelli!) You flaw-free, golden goddess, you. I told her I had a tumble, and she said she fell recently chasing a stag in the forest (these things happen ;). She remembered me from weeks before when I introduced myself. I said I remembered her by a different name; she said she was inspired to change her name from Ariel to her middle name Cassandra after she saw her Grandmother in a dream. (“Like the Greek seer!” “Exactly!”) We talked a little about my recent loss and how being there lifted my spirits. Then we talked about how I was a medical student in Grenada. I might have told them a few weird medical school stories or two, but I can’t remember.
By this time Max (Nick Atkinson) had sat down in the booth with us. “What is an endoplasmic reticulum?” he asked. I explained what it was and how there were two types. “Is that what’s behind my eyes?” he asked, pointing curiously. I said maybe he was talking about aqueous humor? Or vitreous humor? Whatever we were saying, he too was absolutely charming - and I daresay good-humored - about things.
Annabella came over, too. I thanked her for some herbs she gave me in October while I was home visiting NY. She said to find me later, and when I left them all to go exploring the hotel once more, she covered my hands in a protective potion. I have a terrible sense of smell at the best of times, but this smelled more amazing than words. It was that potent, that strong.
Annabella. I don’t remember what she was wearing at all. But that’s artistic license for you. I bet she’d look great in it.
My next go round, I decided to follow the Tailor or Taxidermist or some combination of the two. I found the Tailor (Zach McNally) finishing up in the graveyard and followed him back upstairs. My favorite bit, one I had never seen before, was when he goes to the Speakeasy. Jeffery Lyon was the Bartender.
Now that you’ve had the obligatory drink, shall we dance-fight?
I was standing right next to the Tailor after he took a drink. Which is why I was close enough to catch the Bartender gently hiss, “Was it too strong for ya?” into his face as he spit it out. When you hear lines spoken, especially ones spoken softly, it feels like a kind of treat, or secret. I giggled. Jeffery Lyon has the best facial expressions, and their fight was perfectly raw and fluid and dirty (drink spilling everywhere, as it tends to do in that room).
I followed the Tailor back and then split time between his office and the Taxidermist’s shop. The Tailor and the Taxidermist seem like two sides of the same coin in a way. They’re both creepers with OCD tendencies who fiddle around with red thread. I know I just blew you away with that analysis. I bet there are more similarities, but I’m not a Sleep No More scholar, man. All I know is that their altercation in the Tailor’s shop was really excellent and new to me so I’m happy I was there to watch it. I have heard tell of Luke Murphy, but I hadn’t actually seen him before in my life until that night. Here’s how I remember him as Taxidermist:
His idiosyncrasies certainly were fascinating. I was excited about the science-related aspects of the Taxidermist and examined the half-of-an-animal pelvis he put on the desk for myself (Ilium! Ischium! Pubis!). It definitely wasn’t a human’s pelvis, and I’m not a vet student, so I’m just going to guess dog and call it a day. But yeah, his tools were fascinating, as were his notes and such. He would be interesting to watch again, certainly.
I ended by watching the rave, specifically Hecate’s reactions to the whole thing, and then helping Boy Witch get ready for the last banquet. Elizabeth Romanski was Hecate that night. The image of her seated during the rave, her head angled just so, her eyes lit up with the satisfaction of well-orchestrated chaos, cooling herself with her peacock fan, still burns in my mind. And Austin Goodwin was my first Boy Witch, so his vulnerability and howling as he lingers in the shower is also something I’ll not forget any time soon. My one regret in this whole post is that I wasn’t able to draw the two of them before I left home. (But there’s still good old fashioned pen and paper, so hey.)
I was still quite tired during the last banquet, and a little irritated. I wanted to stand in the center and watch (to see if this Macbeth also mouths anything before the end, like Paul Z’s), but someone decided to bypass the entire crowd and come from the other direction to plant herself directly in front of me and next to her friend (and hold her friend’s hand, sigh). I did get to hear Macbeth mutter, “We have scorched the snake, not killed it!” The hanging was still affecting, still horrifying; there is, of course, a macabre elegance to the silhouette swaying when it’s all over, keeping time to “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”.
I was content with how my night had been (all new things, fun times at the bar) but then I felt a presence to my immediate right; it was Jeffery Lyon’s Bartender, who had been standing dead center after having delivered someone to the hanging. I regarded him through my periphery and felt his hand slip into mine. As he walked me out, and as the music began to pick up, he quietly started singing along. I couldn’t help but smile…and then proceeded to not care about protocol and joined the singing, too. Then we laughed as we walked and sang the rest of the song, getting louder and more boisterous the closer we got to the Manderley, as though we’d been planning to do it the whole time. You can guess how it ended. The point is: Jeffery Lyon, you are a champion of this planet and an all-around good dude. I would karaoke with you in a heartbeat. Four for you, Jeffery Lyon. You go, Jeffery Lyon.
And while I’m in the midst of an outpouring of gratitude, another last shout-out-because-you-are-an-amazing-person to Ms. Ava Lee Scott who, after I ran into her outside the building, went out of her way to go back upstairs and grab herbs she prepared for me after we missed each other at the end of the night. They are with me now, 2000 miles away.
The best kind of magic is wild, unpredictable, uncontrollable. That’s the pull of the experience every time I go, and why I come back (and will miss it), even if I literally fell flat on my face.
(At least I didn’t fall on an outstretched hand, that would have been a Colles fracture of the distal radius, and that shit is awfully painful.)
Anyway, that’s that. You’ll see the occasional picture post from me, but it’s back to being a hermit in medical school. See you in July, so long, farewell, auf wiedersen, adieu.