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Sleep No More
Photograph: Courtesy Robin RoemerSleep No More

The best immersive theater in New York right now

Put yourself in the middle of the action at immersive plays and interactive theater experiences beyond Broadway

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman
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When it comes to theater, who says you have to just sit and watch? Immersive theater in New York City puts you right in the middle of the action, and often draws you in to participate. Whereas most Broadway shows still follow the traditional proscenium-arch model, immersive Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions tend break down the barriers between actors and spectators, letting you follow your own paths through unconventional spaces. Since they are often intimate and interactive, these shows have been slow to return from the pandemic shutdown—the king of them all, the long-running Sleep No More, will not be back until February—but there is still a lot to choose from in the months ahead. To help you navigate the maze of options, here is our list of the city's best immersive and interactive shows.

RECOMMENDED: Best Broadway shows

Immersive Theater in NYC

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Interactive
  • Chelsea

A multitude of searing sights crowd the spectator's gaze at the bedazzling and uncanny theater installation Sleep No More. Your sense of space is blurred as you wend through more than 90 discrete spaces, ranging from a cloistral chapel to a vast ballroom floor: a purgatorial maze that blends images from Macbeth with ones derived from Hitchcock movies—all liberally doused in a distinctly Stanley Kubrick eau de dislocated menace.—David Cote 

  • Theater
  • Interactive
  • Bushwick

No show in town offers as intimate an experience as this interactive experience in Bushwick, which has been created to be performed for just five audience members at a time. A surreal look at the nature of ritual and ceremony, Bottom of the Ocean is the third production from Andrew Hoepfner’s company Houseworld Immersive, and draws on techniques that Hoepfner explored previously in Houseworld and Whisperlodge. [Not yet reviewed.]

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  • Theater
  • Interactive
  • East Village

Bated Breath Theatre Company was a leader in pandemic theater with its outdoor West Village walking-tour production Voyeur: The Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec. Now it follows up with another peripatetic theater experience about an artist: writer-director Mara Lieberman's Chasing Andy Warhol, which explores the enigma of the wiggy pop artist and fame industrialist through vignettes of theater, dance and scenic effects in locations throughout the East Village. Groups of audience members are rolled out at 45-minute intervals on each performance day. [Not yet reviewed.]

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