Review: The Act, Dubai

Life is a cabaret, old chum. Come to the cabaret’ John Kander/Fred Ebb

Now my hangover has finally shifted (it took a whole day and most of the evening, is that excessive drinking? Or age related? Or a combination of the two?) I can now reflect on Thursday night’s entertainment and boy it takes some thinking about!

Unfortunately as there was a strict ‘No Photography’ policy, I cannot share any photographic evidence but needless to say seeing really is believing! So instead let me set the scene with some of the ingredients that make up the experience.  Think high-end hotel, add in some theatre (but don’t think West End or Broadway), add a pinch of Victoriana, a sprinkle of music hall variety entertainers (with a touch of circus), throw in some Alice in Wonderland, a few plates of Peruvian Tapas, bottle or two of Chilean Merlot,  a magnum of chilled Belvedere Vodka and beat with a DJ spinning the latest tracks, sweat that all together until 3am and what have you got…….The Act in Dubai.

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The Act is an export from Las Vegas and when reading the Time Out Dubai review beforehand (whilst in outfit panic) I wondered could a concept taken from the Vegas strip, known of its risqué performances, transpose to the more conservative UAE.  The Act is the first theatre club here and of course in true Dubai fashion it has a  world record, it’s the highest theatre in the world, located on the 42nd/43rd floors of the Shangri La Hotel.

The Act combines a cosy restaurant with live theatre performances, two bars and a stage which stretches across two floops. Sitting at a table in front of the stage, we were treated to a menu of Peruvian tapas (a first for me) served on mismatched Victorian plates with Crystal cut goblets and heavily patterned silver cutlery, which sits alongside trendy illuminated ice buckets filled with top end Vodka. The food, a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, looked amazing and tasted delicious, really good meat dishes (so I’m told) and lots of veggie options too.

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Now this is where the crazy began. The ruched satin curtain raised (think old music hall) and we were treated to the first act, a break dancing geek complete with suit and bow-tie, a super talented dancer who bounced around the stage whilst eating cereal from the box and spinning on his head. At this point a man wearing a full bear head came up and chinked glasses with us, while the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland sauntered past on stilts! Yes that really happened! Next up, three guys dressed up as dwarfs performing YMCA among other classics!

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The venue then turned into a full on nightclub with the music slowly increasing in volume and the acts kept coming. A chinese lady was painted white by two others before being tied up by her hair and spinning from the ceiling, followed by a group of shirtless male dancers, some lady singers and a robot lit up like a Christmas tree……….my memory then fades as the copious amount of Vodka Cranberry’s took over.

Who is responsible for bringing this cabaret to Dubai nightlife scene?  The answer is Simon Hammerstein (grandson of famous theatrical producer Oscar Hammerstein) who developed the concept in Vegas and recreated it in London as The Box in Soho (a favourite haunt of the younger Royals) and in NYC, both billed as raunchy affairs.  Hammerstein has bought a range of variety acts  to perform in this region and the Dubai clubbers are lapping up every minute.

So what next Dubai? Because that is a hard Act to follow!

The Act

Location: Shangri-La Hotel, 42nd floor, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai.

Telephone: 04 355 1116

Website: www.theactdubai.com

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All views are my own based on my experience © Jo Brett 2013. All rights reserved. All photos used courtesy of www.theactdubai.com as cameras and phones were banned.