La Perle by Dragone

It’s the big­gest show the Mid­dle East has ever seen, and it’s spec­tac­u­lar. Franco Dragone’s res­i­dent mas­ter­piece de­fies the laws of grav­ity – and pretty much ev­ery other rule of na­ture.

Bespoke - - THE CONTENTS -

It’s said that La Perle won’t turn a profit for the first five years. That pro­vides some inkling into how much money was spent con­cep­tu­al­is­ing this mind-blow­ing show and turn­ing it into a re­al­ity. In­deed, the four cred­its pages at the back of the show’s of­fi­cial pro­gramme read like a Hol­ly­wood block­buster’s. The first of its kind in the Mid­dle East, La Perle take place in a pur­pose built, 1,300-seat ‘aqua-theatre’ nes­tled be­tween the new St. Regis and W ho­tels within Al Habtoor City near Down­town Dubai, and is ex­pected to be a con­stant fea­ture for at least the next decade. It’s the brain­child of Franco Dragone, the Bel­gian-ital­ian en­ter­tain­ment vi­sion­ary of Cirque du Soleil fame who has been cap­ti­vat­ing au­di­ences all over the world since the mid 1980s. Though he says the show is a metaphor for Dubai, like many pieces of per­for­mance art, it’s wildly open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion – there’s lit­tle point try­ing to an­a­lyse what you’re see­ing: just sit back and en­joy the ride. The ac­tion cen­tres around a pool in the mid­dle of the per­for­mance floor and the set, such as it is, con­stantly shifts and changes through ge­nius use of cut­ting-edge pro­jec­tion and laser tech­nol­ogy. The floor can fea­ture an enor­mous ‘red car­pet’, be trans­formed into a swirling galaxy or a psy­che­delic chess­board, while the sur­round­ing walls re­sem­ble any­thing from cityscape to medieval dun­geons. Nearly three mil­lion litres of wa­ter are used dur­ing each show and it all ends up on the floor, cas­cad­ing down from the au­di­to­rium’s sides in wa­ter­falls or fall­ing from the ceil­ing like a mon­soon. One minute per­form­ers are writhing around in it, the next the floor is mag­i­cally bone dry again. Look up and ac­ro­bats are dan­gling like ca­dav­ers be­fore they hur­tle down on trapezes and ca­bles, or plunge 25 me­tres into that pool. Wit­ness the fleet­footed Chi­nese Dragon as it leaps from pil­lar to post and won­der aloud just how that’s pos­si­ble with two hu­man be­ings in­side. Gasp as a man runs around a gi­ant pen­du­lum that low­ers to the stage and then, just when you think you’ve seen it all, try to pick your jaw from the floor as five death-de­fy­ing mo­tor­cy­clists tear around in­side a metal­lic sphere sus­pended above the pool. If you don’t join in a stand­ing ova­tion af­ter that, there’s prob­a­bly some­thing wrong with you. Hon­estly, we’re not quite sure what it’s all about but does it re­ally mat­ter? The only real ques­tions are when we’ll get to see it again and who our lucky guest will be. Be­lieve the hype, La Perle re­ally is the ul­ti­mate spec­ta­cle.

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