One weekend after our Paris trip we were at the Al-Ghanim Electronics store (X-Cite) at the Avenues Mall here in Kuwait to purchase some electronic stuff. Later hubby told me that he had been given 3 “VIP” tickets to watch the Cirque du Soleil show in November.
Great I thought, I’d never been to one. Its been so much talked about.
The local Arab Times published a write-up about the show:
X-Cite Presents Cirque Du Soleil
For the first time in Kuwait, X-cite by Alghanim Electronics is delighted to present exclusive programmes by the world famous Cirque du Soleil and Moscow Circus. A long-time enthusiast of innovative entertainment, X-cite saw that introducing both renowned acts would be the ultimate tribute to its customers.
Cirque du Soleil has given the world an entirely original form of live entertainment that combines acrobatic acts with thrilling performances in a dynamic ambiance of colours and sounds. Its international cast of lavish artists, musicians and stunning acrobats had made it one of the most spectacular performances in the world.
Combined with Russian folk musicians, acrobats and ornate costumes, the Moscow Circus will perform a mix of drama, cultural history, and awesome acrobatic acts that will even add more excitement to the event.
I hadn’t bothered to check (I’m so naive!) but apparently there had been a lot of buzz about the show in various Kuwait blogs. Many bloggers and / or their readers did not believe that such a unique show would actually make its presence in Kuwait. Someone actually checked with Cirque du Soleil management in Canada and it seemed to be a bona fide event. Some thought it will only be a knock-off of the real thing.
Granted, it was an event for Al-Ghanim customers and no tickets would be available to purchase over any counter, but there was going to be a show. Or so they said. People in the blogs were skeptical because THIS IS <CONSERVATIVE> KUWAIT, and it has happened too often before. Concerts and other shows are organised, tickets sold and at the last minute, it gets cancelled because someone in a higher up office revokes a permit.
Anyway, today came and after Maghrib we trotted off towards Kuwait’s Entertainment City in Doha (not Doha, Qatar) about 45 minutes away. Armed with something warm to wear because it was a crisp 19 degrees. Nice weather for a circus.
I was really excited – no pun intended! My Facebook status attracted many comments. Someone asked which production they were showing, others shared their experience. I had no idea what to expect but having been to high calibre international shows before I did visualise a well-organised event and most of all, an elaborate indoor stage and venue.
Well, it wasn’t to be.
After parking on a curb because the parking was totally full, we had no idea where to go. There was no signage to guide us anywhere, nor the familiar sight of an official wearing neon-coloured vests telling us where to park or proceed. We saw searchlights so the venue was somewhere out there in the open ground. We walked towards the searchlights and as we came closer, we saw a steel structure similar to what you would have for an open air concert?
Hmmmm…I started to get “worried”. An outdoor event? Really? For THE Cirque du Soleil event in Kuwait?
There had been no elaborate banners or signage anywhere to indicate that this was an elaborate international production come to town. Only Al-Ghanim’s X-cite logo on each side of the steel structure of the stage!
We came to what appeared to be the entrance gate to the show and a couple of officials dressed in Kuwaiti dishdashas let us in after examining out tickets. We stood there frozen, dumbfounded at the sea of people seated on chairs arranged on the sand on our left. On our right on the perimeter of the grounds, it was like a fair with vendors selling all kinds of refreshments from soft drinks to shawarma. There were many screens around the site all airing X-cite commercials.
There were no empty chairs. Standing room only? What happened to the VIP seating?
Hubby had given the extra ticket to a colleague, “Roberto” (not his real name) and strange as it was, he actually saw Roberto not 10 feet away looking no less disoriented! We joined Roberto and stood there in awe at what we have seen and experienced thus far. We all agreed that this was far, far below what it should be. We had to console ourselves by remembering that this was Kuwait and it was somehow to be expected. We checked the tickets: it clearly said Cirque du Soleil & Moscow Circus. Then somewhere on the left at the bottom in smaller print it said: Cirque du Soleil Events. Are you thinking what I’m thinking yet?
So far it didn’t look like it was anything close to a Cirque du Soleil show. We decided to walk further and find an area cordoned off and another official checking tickets and letting people through. Ahhhhhh…so here were the VIP seats. But there were no seats left! Unnumbered seats? With this sea of people? We then heard that the grounds had been open since 4pm and people actually started coming in then. We stood there amazed and wondered what to do next. I wanted to suggest walking between the chairs and maybe there were seats somewhere in there. But I decided not to.
We evaluated the situation. We had driven 45 minutes to get here. It was nice and cool. Someone said they were bringing in more chairs. It WAS closer to the stage here. So why not wait and see what happens.
There was an announcement first in English then in Arabic and the emcee introduced the…..Moscow Circus. As we stood and tried to watch, two, three, then four officials came to us and the few others with so-called VIP tickets standing there and virtually shooed us away because apparently we were blocking the view of those seated in the regular seats. In Arabic. We moved away but not too much. We wanted to try and see the show too.
They came back. B-b-b-b-but we have no seats, we said. They didn’t care. We shook our heads. They didn’t shoo us away once, but twice, then three times… There was a screen near us and I think they were telling us that instead of blocking people trying to see the performance on the stage why don’t we watch the screen like everybody else who can’t see the stage!! I don’t know. He spoke Arabic again. We saw people carrying in chairs for themselves. I don’t know where they got them and I was pretty sure hubby and Roberto were not keen to do the same.
I’m sure the show was impressive and the artistes talented but we drove all this way to see Cirque du Soleil and so far we don’t see that this was getting anywhere close to a Cirque du Soleil production. The Moscow Circus may be an opening act but whatever the next act was, I’m not convinced right now that it was going to be a Cirque du Soleil production. Not on this stage! A rock concert yes, but a Cirque production? Not a chance.
A reviewer wrote of a Cirque show he had seen and said that he “had seen other Cirque de Soleil shows before and knew that there is a great deal of activity going on all over the stage at the same time. Sometimes it was difficult to know what to watch. Pay close attention or you will miss something. The staging is unbelievable. One moment, it’s only a platform for performers and the next, it opens up to be a high diving pool. The acts are tremendous and unforgettable.” Somehow I did not see that happening here. Right now.
We decided we could not stand here all night and be shooed again and again and Roberto said that rather than watch the show on the screen here he’d rather go back and put on a DVD and watch a movie on his hi-tech projector screen at home! And so we all called it a night. At 7:45pm.
So was it the Cirque du Soleil or not? I don’t know. I scoured the net today hoping to find a press release or something about the show. I checked the blogs. Nothing much. I found one where someone said the Cirque came on at 9pm after the Moscow Circus and they were awesome. Another one also said she saw the Cirque and posted pictures but they didn’t look anything like they could be the real Cirque show…so I still don’t know what it was last night.
Oh well. Back at the apartment one hour later, we brushed the dust from our shoes and boots and decided that we’d find out where in the world one of the 23 productions of the Cirque du Soleil was showing one of these days and buy some tickets.
Did someone say they saw “Zaia” in Macao and there was a show there next week?