Forget Google, production photos or hearsay. Nothing can quite prepare you for the enormity, opulence and sheer (frequently heart-stopping) audacity of La Perle, Dubai’s first permanent ‘no-expense-spared’ spectacle from the creators of Vegas favourite Le Rêve.
You expect it to be all of those things, of course. You’re in the ‘City of Gold’ after all – and perfectly aware of the ticket prices. But hell, when Franco Dragone’s unstinting production begins, neither the imagery displayed front-of-house – which you assumed could give some tangible indication of its scale – nor your imagination can quite do a show as monumental in undertaking and technical prowess as this justice.
It’s inevitable – and hugely welcome, in a city with an abundance of facilities but palpable lack of ‘things to put in them’ – that the Vegas of the Middle East would follow the tried-and-tested Cirque du Soleil model of investing in a bespoke venue attached to a hotel (the W Habtoor City, here) accommodating the complexities of a visual and logistical extravaganza.
And it really is that. To drill the point home: this is pure unadulterated spectacle, where ‘more is more’ – pretty much for the duration of its 90-minute theatrical equivalent of a slamdunk. If you’re coming for narrative, character archs, nuanced dialogue or basically any desire to leave having comprehended events on an intellectual level, do stay in and stick Netflix on.
But if you wish to sit there open-mouthed at the show’s almost undefinable levels of excess, wondering exactly what the running costs are to keep this show afloat, or how high-pressured the water jets must be to turn the more vast stage I’ve ever seen into a literal swimming pool in less than 10 seconds, or how little sleep stage management team must get – this is totally for you.
The show’s talent (I’m going to speculate there’s over a hundred!?) – acrobats, motorbikers, divers, dancers and more – are world-class. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of contemporary circus shows of all shapes and sizes – but nothing quite compares to La Perle‘s octane tumbling finale for instance. It’s superbly choreographed and just electrifying.
La Perle‘s clown (I wish I knew his name but he looked southern European, info about casting was somewhat limited – likely because of its ever-changing nature) is equally superb; holding an audience and venue of that scale in the palm of his hand and without so much as a word uttered. It’s mesmerising artistry.
Events are loosely shaped around a journey that a young character must embark on – a suitable conceit, essentially, to allow for an endless array of enormous setpieces, projection and other forms of technical wizardry to transport you from fantastical world to world in mere seconds. But I’m totally down for it.
The production screams ‘Dubai’ all over: expensive, unnecessary, nonsensical but equally uniquely beautiful. And undoubtedly something you’ll never ever forget.