Do you remember the insanely lavish circus in 1995’s Batman Forever? Imagine that, but with more death-defying acrobats, waterfalls, high diving, and motorcycle acrobatics, all staged in front of an IMAX cinema screen. That might begin to give you a flavour of the breathtaking insanity in store for you at Dubai’s first and only Las Vegas style residential show.
An exotic diver mysteriously presents an Alice-like figure with a pearl, one of many. A wicked Harlequin plots against her; a clownish king tries to protect her. She sleeps; a planet explodes and rebirths with dinosaurs, cities, and — finally — Dubai’s Burj Al Arab. A Rama-like figure battles in search of his love. Famed Las Vegas impresario Franco Dragone calls his latest work “a visual poem, made of emotions and dreams”.
It’s good to have moments of stillness and romance, because the circus here — although largely the same familiar stunts you’ll find in many circuses around the globe — is world-class. A four-legged Chinese dragon leaps impossibly across tiny platforms. A man becomes weightless on a giant swinging metal pendulum. In addition to the circus stunts, the choreography is beautiful: aerial stunts simply look like flying (even with the wires visible); people with glowing umbrellas walk upside down over the audience’s heads; one electric moment sees the whole cast rhythmically smacking the drenched floor, sending up sprays of water. There are some live singers and musicians, but not visible or particularly audible over the relentlessly dramatic, minor key, Hans-Zimmer-esque pre-recorded score (Michael Brennan).
The entire 1300-seat theatre, purpose-built, is as much a part of the spectacle as the performers. The magical, swirling whirlpool in the centre of the floor features prominently, alongside many once-in-a-lifetime stunning water effects. Projections sweep across the entire floor and walls, creating a truly immersive, dizzying experience as the scenery morphs and distorts. The whole thing makes for an absolutely remarkable, destination spectacular, leaving you with your jaw dropped and your heart pounding. For those in Dubai — and for everyone else — it’s a must-see.
Book La Perle tickets online, with a 30% discount available for advance bookings. Tickets from 280 AED (£57). VIP packages also available.