I wrote recently that Sleep No More is in something of a renaissance. I’ve been to the show a few more times since, so wanted to add some further thoughts.
* I’d mentioned that Jesse Kovarsky’s Boy Witch is great. I saw it again last week and it got even better! He’s more confident in the role now, and he’s added more of his own unique touches. I was often smiling under my mask while following him - both because he’s clearly having fun teasing the audience, and because he’s just so good. The precision and beauty of his movement during the pool table solo is awe-inspiring. And I just love how he engages with his crowd - he’s so good at creating a connection.
* Speakeasy Barman is not a character I usually follow. I get the sense that you’re actually not *supposed* to. But I gave it chance because Jesse was on, and actually it was very fun. Jesse just has a natural instinct for how to make a character interesting - he was subtle, but was always doing things to keep the audience’s attention and bring the character to life. If you catch him in the role, it’s worth spending a loop.
* I was looking forward to seeing Leslie Kraus as Sexy Witch, and it totally lived up to my expectations. She’s like… an evil fairy sprite, or something. So tiny and delicate and teasing - she reminds me of Ching-I Chang, who was my all-time favorite. Like Jesse, she’s delightfully fun to follow. And her bar solo just KILLS it - it’s so absorbing, hypnotic, absolutely stunning.
* Austin Goodwin’s Porter has long been one of my favorites, and I loved seeing it from another perspective when I was following Boy Witch the other night. I only had a few moments watching the Porter, but even then Austin has such presence, and such a delicate, graceful vulnerability. If you’re following Boy Witch, it’s like a concentrated experience of the Porter, too - you see such key moments: the longing, the hope, and then crushing heartbreak. Austin is amazing at those scenes.
* Elizabeth Romanski’s Violet is always delightful. She says the intro speech perfectly every time - she’s funny, she’s welcoming, she’s threatening, and she’s otherworldly. She hits the elevator door HARD and I’ve never seen her get the timing wrong when introducing James.
In truth, I think the intro is often the weakest part of the show - when done poorly it can slide into “cheesy haunted house” territory. :/ But Violet absolutely lives up to the quality of anything else you see once inside the hotel.
* Nick Bruder is REALLY REALLY SCARY. He whispered that Macbeth thing to me the other day and, like, I wasn’t sure I’d survive the experience. It totally lured me into following him, though - second loop, no less.
* Paul Zivkovich’s Porter was already one of the best things ever in the show - the only Porter I’ve seen fully succeed at both the humorous and the tragic aspects of the character - and it’s gotten even better since he got back from Drowned Man.
I miss Paul’s Fool. The characters are distinct, but much of what made his Fool great is the same type of thing that’s making his Porter so good now. It’s *little* things - I don’t want to spoil, everyone should go see and be surprised - but the overall effect creates such a nuanced sense of character, someone that you feel you *know*, and that you like - just from watching him, observing the tiniest quirks, even just the way his eyes move.
The way he approaches the witches at the phone booths, for example - other Porters come forward with such a tense sense of expectation, of terrified hope, and Paul’s Porter has that too, but he approaches in such an understated way, sidling in like one of the audience, like he’s trying (and totally failing) to hide the immensity of his longing. It’s like, he plays so many layers and underlying emotional notes - not just the longing and the fear and the hope, but the character’s own awkward self-consciousness of those things, and he does it in a way that’s kind of funny, and terribly sad at the same time, and relatable in a way that makes you dread what’s about to happen, and wish you could protect him.
The way he relates to the other characters, also, reminds me of his Fool. Porter and Fool exist on the margins, observing the more dramatic people around them - in a literal way, they direct the audience to watch the major characters - but Paul does it so that his interest in them actually becomes an interesting trait about his own character as well.
Also - the Porter 1:1 is my favorite 1:1 ever, and Paul’s version is awesome.
* I had doubts when I heard Oliver Hornsby-Sayer is playing Porter and Macduff - I was never a Dwayne fan. But he’s *really* good - his Porter is so expressive, with an innocent quality that makes him extra sympathetic. He’s an excellent dancer, of course, and his durational scenes were interesting and effective - I love how they all put their own spin on certain moments. His 1:1 was great - that innocent quality totally draws you in.
* I’ve never felt very engaged with Macduff before - he seems like a character that exists mainly to do impressive choreography and to have a wife who’s way more interesting than he is. But Olly’s Macduff drew me in, with that same expressive, innocent quality of his Porter. You really believe that Macduff adores his wife, that he’s bewildered about how to help her but trying really hard - and his later abandoning of her seems less blatantly negligent and more just naive, which makes him a lot more sympathetic. Plus he’s doing the wall climbing choreography now, yay!
* The other night, David Botana gave the best elevator intro I’ve ever seen. I actually hung back so that I could see everything he’d do. It was kind of like if a really hilarious Norman Bates was running the elevator? But with like, a completely tongue-in-cheek awareness of the elevator operator tropes.
* Aside from that random brilliant Botana intro, James Graber is otherwise the winner at running the elevator. He is ominous and funny and you are guaranteed a better show if he is there telling people not to hold hands. THANK YOU JAMES GRABER.
* Paul Corning! His John Lindsay is always a delight at the Heath, and it was fun to see him bringing some of that charm to the Manderley recently too.
* Since he’s great in the bar, I decided to try following Paul’s Taxidermist, which was an odd experience. I’ve never followed the Taxidermist before, and I found it really scary. I wanted to run away. He’s so creeeeeepy. Which I guess means he was effective! I really enjoyed his performance, but my own timid reaction weirded me out.
* I’m literally still in shock that I saw Conor Doyle as Boy Witch the other night. I was drinking absinthe right beforehand so maybe I just hallucinated the whole thing? Hopefully one day I’ll hallucinate seeing his Porter, too.