Sleep No More

Nicholas Quirke was feeling that the title of the Punchdrunk performance ‘Sleep No More’ he was seeing on 23 July 2021 couldn’t be more appropriate for the disturbed restless night he had on the overnight train. He was fully awake by five am due to the sounds of a passenger siting outside the compartment eating their breakfast. He got up, used the toilet and got himself dressed while the rest of the compartment seemed to sleep on and on even through the stops, though he did manage to do some work and reading. The train was held up at Nanjing due to the health measures now that the City was in lockdown. A lady who had mistakenly put her belongings on the top bunk the night before and had been hugely embarrassed when she had to move came back as she had left an item in the bed and that action signified they were approaching Shanghai. The compartment aroused themselves and he had another chat with Victor and they finally disembarked forty five minutes late. As he only had a rucksack with him Nicholas chose to cycle to the hotel, which though 3 km from the station seemed to be a straight line. The one way system confused him a little but it was only about five minutes of faffing about before he was on the road and enjoying being in another city. He reached the hotel without incident which, and it may have been the defunct fountain outside, possessed a certain faded glamour that appealed to him. Inside it was like all Ji Hotels, fresh, clean and comfortable. The only reason he was in Shanghai was to go to the theatre with Angel and most of the important sights he had already seen on his previous trip and this meant he was not anxious to be sight seeing. He did though want to go the legendary Vegan restaurant. ‘Green Common’ and as soon as he had freshened up he got on a bike and cycled another 4 km to the stylish diner. It was certainly worth the effort though as he was meeting Angel for supper he didn’t want to spoil his appetite and was modest with his order, though he did push the boat with a delicious Vegan desert. He was not meeting Angel till 5pm and found a cafe near the hotel who were absurdly delighted to have a Laowai in their venue, especially as there was a Starbucks 2 doors away. It was very Humid and he felt he should freshen up again. Angel picked him up and decided it was a good idea too get a Didi to the theatre even though they were relatively close. She had sourced a vegan restaurant and though he offered to pay she insisted that it was her treats. ‘Sleep No More’ was by the renowned immersive theatre company and was their take on Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Macbeth. They had taken over an old hotel and renamed it the McKinnon Hotel where over several floors the murky dealings of the play took place. When they arrived they were taken back in time through a scarily pitch black corridor to a 1930’s style Shanghai bar where the strains of a jazz pianist were playing. They were each given a playing card which symbolised their entry, Nicholas had the six of diamonds and after a conversation with the Chanteuse was called first. He had to put his phone and belongings in a small black shoulder bag which was then locked with a security tag. He was given a mask and was then put in a lift which took him to one of the floors. From this point on he was on his own. The sets spread over five floors were astonishingly detailed, ranging from banquet halls, bedroom suites to bathrooms where a guilt ridden lady Macbeth immersed herself in one of the porcelain slipper baths that looked like a torture chamber in an insane asylum. He followed the characters through many different floors, through woods, through murders and at one point he was asked by one of the witches to get him into a pair of trousers that he had divested. It was dark, chilling and magnificent. After three hours of story telling mostly through dance all threads of the story eventually led to the finale and the banquet where the appearance Banquo’s ghost wrought dire consequences on protagonist. They were led back to the bar where they were entertained by singers as Nicholas and Angel poured over their experience. It was nearly midnight before they got a cab. Nicholas was dropped of at his hotel with warnings to be careful the next day as typhoon conditions were threatened. His conscience was clean and there was no doubt that he would have no problems unlike the Thane of Cawdor, that he would sleep well that night.

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