Exciting times for Punchdrunk. The inventive theatre company made its New York debut this week with Sleep No More. The Macbeth-meets-Hitchcock immersive thriller originally played in a disused school in Kennington and then travelled to Boston in 2009 where it was seen by 30,000 people. In New York its home is "The McKittrick Hotel", a Vertigo-inspired 100,000sqft labyrinth of former nightclubs and restaurants in North Chelsea. "It's a fascinating building, like a maze inside because it's had so many uses," says Colin Marsh, Punchdrunk's executive director. The play features 25 characters, from Lady Macbeth to Rebecca's Mrs Danvers, moving around over 100 rooms. "There isn't anything like this in New York," says Marsh. The Village Voice has already declared it a "wake-up call" for the city's theatre scene and word-of-mouth, the company's preferred marketing tool, is spreading fast. Half of the tickets for the initial run have already been sold. "Which for a company that doesn't have any audience in the city is remarkable," adds Marsh.
Back in London, on Tuesday the company will perform "an interesting diversion" at Leicester Square's new W Hotel for a select crowd, taking them into its back rooms and corridors for a Rear Window-flavoured tour. In true Punchdrunk style, fans have to go to W London's Facebook and post the link wlondon.co.uk/192doors, to enter a ballot for tickets.
In the meantime, Punchdrunk will once again be the star attraction at this summer's Manchester International Festival, reveals Marsh. "We're really pleased to be going back. We're doing something we've absolutely never done before." Also coming up – a new London show and a return to Boston. Watch this space.
Wheel of fortune
Drawing a bicycle has long been used as a test by psychologists to reveal the workings of the brain. So what can we glean from the bicycles designed by leading artists for the ICA's annual fundraising bash on 29 March? The institution asked 25 artists to customise various items, from beanbags to bikes, in keeping with the gala's psychedelic theme. The pieces will be auctioned off on the night by Sotheby's. "Ai Weiwei's bike is in many pieces and un-rideable," I'm told. "Damien Hirst's is incredibly stylish and bright. And Mark Wallinger's is folded and chained up." Amateur shrinks, read into that what you will.
All eyes on Dubai
The fifth Dubai Art Fair kicks off on Wednesday and will be watched closely by art world players eager for signs of a buoyant art market. A major player in the Noughties art boom, the Middle East market has been quieter of late. Haunch of Venison and Lisson are just two of the big London galleries who have dropped off the list of 75 exhibitors. Paradise Row, Hotel and Bischoff/Weiss will still make the journey though, and New York's Marianne Boesky, London's Pilar Corrias and Istanbul's Rodeo are among the newcomers to the fair. "After the credit crunch, a bit of soul-searching went on," says Antonia Carver, the fair director. "Now we don't need to shout about Dubai any more. Everybody knows where it is." Dubai has even discovered the pleasure of not-for-profit art spaces. The Pavilion Downtown, a 15,000sqft space modelled on the Serpentine Gallery and the first in the region to be dedicated to showing non-commercial contemporary art shows, opened last month.
It doesn't ogre well
You might think that the least glamorous role in the upcoming Shrek: the Musical was the titular lead, but Nigel Lindsay has it relatively easy with his sackcloth and green facepaint. Pity, rather, poor Nigel Harman who has gone from Eastenders pin-up to playing the dwarfish Lord Farquaad. The role requires Harman to perform the whole show on his knees. "I spoke to the actor who played it on Broadway and I don't think he has been quite the same since," says a backstage source.
Daniel Radcliffe is now playing in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying on Broadway and though opening night is a fortnight away, a tape of him singing "I Believe in You" has leaked online. Radcliffe plays the lead, J Pierrepont Finch, and it turns out, on this fuzzy evidence, that his voice is not at all bad. Meanwhile. the Harry Potter star recently revealed his top five musicals online: they are Company, Gypsy, A Chorus Line, South Pacific and Promises, Promises. What, no Wizard of Oz? (sorry).