Any notions that I harboured of Las Vegas as nothing more than the most famous gambling station in the world took an enormous tumble once I along with my wife Mayuri reached the city the bright morning of August 12 last on a Delta Airlines flight from Salt Lake City. Las Vegas!! This city apparently holds the Guinness record as the place having the highest number of world record situations — be it structural, technological, social, or otherwise. Like for example, the Las Vegas airport apparently has the highest number of runways in the world. Well, I wouldn’t bother to contest these claims. A city of amazing proportions that exists right in the middle of the Nevada Desert and is remarkably without any shortage of water, Las Vegas, I would venture to say, remains the tourists’ ultimate paradise.
Paucity of space disallows me from waxing eloquent about Las Vegas; but I remain one of the lucky few who managed to get a ring side view of a ‘show’ that today seems like a wonderful dream. A show? I recall wondering what a ‘show’ was supposed to mean. Would it be a play? Or would it be a circus? Perhaps a magic show? I had no clue as to what exactly ‘Le Reve’ was all about.
The Le Reve Theatre turned out to be a plush circular dome of an auditorium with ultra-comfortable seating galleries that looked down onto what appeared to be a wrought-iron bed that had dropped anchor in the middle of a large body of water. This was meant to be the performing stage. As our ordered drinks were served to our seats and as the service lights dimmed and the stage-lights started to take over, what transpired in front of our eyes over the next two hours, was a magical water-based circus, set at a scorching pace of performance, that left me and my wife bowled over in wondrous disbelief. A total of 65 artistes, of whom perhaps around 50 were young maidens in attractive, specially tailored costumes, and the rest, muscular masculine hunks in equally appropriate theatre attire, put together a performance which I will struggle to describe in words over the next few lines.
If at one point there were 20 swinging trapeze artists diving into the water in synchronized perfection from a height of over 30 metres under superbly designed lighting situations, there was another point when 20 other swimmers disappeared under the water for well over 10 minutes — while their colleagues above the water mesmerized us with their acts — only to resurface without any problem of breathlessness whatoever; an act that totally defied all the sense of logic. The water often caught fire and burned in a dazzling spectacle, and then, parts of the air surface also caught fire all by itself and doused itself equally mysteriously. Cranes, automatically and noiselessly shifting stage parts that moved both horizontally and vertically, trapeze ropes that rhythmically rolled out from the ceiling on a mere expectant look of the artists who were meant to climb it, a flock of trained doves, amazingly skillful artists who seemingly found no problems latching on to each other’s arms in spite of the wetness to suspend themselves magnificently in the air; all of it combined into a surreal experience that left me and my wife dazzled and dumbfounded. Such were the props used, such was the lighting, such was the expertise of the acrobats and such was the superb technology-based musical script that was crafted and executed that we were left wondering if it was all happening in this very world itself.
I have had very few opportunities of being part of an audience that gave a spontaneous standing ovation to an impressive performance, be it in the drama theatres of Guwahati or of all that I have seen at say, Kala Mandir in Kolkata or Siri Fort auditorium in New Delhi. The indelible impression that the magnificence of Le Reve left on our minds is something that I will never be able to do justice to if I venture to describe the same. And the thrill that we felt in being part of an audience that gave that standing ovation to the artists of Le Reve will perhaps remain one of our happiest memories. An ovation that lasted for a long and full five minutes and to which the beautiful artistes took their long bow somehow seemed to make life more meaningful at that point in time. The scintillating performance notwithstanding, I realized that such acrobatics are the result of painful and patient rehearsals and practice. My salute however, goes to the creator of Le Reve because it is only sheer genius that can conceive and then put into effect a piece of performing art as magnificent as Le Reve. Duplication or emulation in this case is impossible. As Americans would put it, Le Reve was just Swapnil Bharaliaawesome!!!