Spontaneous October McKittrick
By definition, a maze is supposed to confuse, disorientate, and confound. It transports you to a destination, surely, but by the most convoluted and ineffecient means possible. Traversing one is meant to be an experience in itself, and though it hardly counts as a “puzzle,” it’s deliberate obfuscation of one’s path can either amuse or frustrate. Garden mazes serve to show off horticultural prowess or opulence, corn field mazes frighten children at Halloween, and naturally occuring “mazes” can even spell certain death for those foolish enough to inadequately prepare for their exploration. But then are Punchdrunk mazes.
Clutching my playing card, I walk up the short of flight of stairs into that maze with the same excitement I feel when I’m next in line to board the roller coaster. The dim candle-lit passage blocks out the noise of city life and replaces it with the dramatic overture of an experience which continually changes and evolves for all those with minds open enough to embrace the unexpected. I know it by heart now; my only caution being to avoid trodding on those who still grope in the darkness for the security of walls and loved ones. While minutes ago I was subject to the mad rush of the streets, suddenly I’m no longer in any hurry at all. The maze is as familiar as walking to 27th and 10th, but no matter how crowded, to me it’s a place of momentary meditation. I enter it an often-stressed man amidst the rat race of 2014, and I depart it a free-spirited scoundrel from 1939.
I never get tired of exiting that mind-warping blackness to arrive at the red curtains and chandeliers of Manderley, where familiar faces haunt the smoky underground while absinthe and whimsical conversation flow freely. A trip to Sleep No More is no longer complete without a sazerac, a dance to Stella Sinclair with the Jango Conway Quartet, and an encounter with the men and women of the bar. Whether it’s scheming with Evine, flirting with Evelyn, absconding with Oliver, broadening Jasper’s horizons, creating new uses for onimonipea with Ren, storytelling with Rupert, or sneaking up on Julian, time with them means just as much to me as the show itself.
This trip was marked with one of the most respectful audiences I’ve seen in a long time. It was refreshing to know that not every visit to the Hotel comes with a prerequisite accompaniment of asshats. Granted, Evine and I were tasked with attempting to help a foolish young visitor open his mind to the experience, which sadly resulted in failure. Utterly oblivious to the wonders around him, he preferred to inquire of me why Scotland had a king in 1939, rather than observe Ms. Sinclar and the mysterious Astrid turn a simple ‘hello’ into a passionate embrace before our very eyes. The poor fool embodied the antithesis of a soul for whom the Hotel speaks. He boldly stated with certainty that he’d “seen everything” on that, his first visit. Meanwhile, I drank a shot of whiskey that I won from a bewitched cat, received a wink from a randy taxidermist, and knelt in prayer while salt was pressed behind my ear with abject tenderness by the mother-never-to-be who played with my beard in bemusement.
…and people ask me why I keep coming back…
Friendship, exploration, open-mindedness and a flirtatious sense of fun will always bring me back to The McKittrick. Like everything in life, it isn’t perfect and nor are it’s visitors, but arriving there will always feel like coming home to me. While Sleep No More truly is “an individual experience,” I continue to leave there with new friends, and that is always worth the cost of admission.
Until next time.