Mild spoilers for Toruk – The First Flight are ahead, you have been warned.
When James Cameron’s epic CGI blockbuster Avatar hit the big screen in 2009, the movie won swathes of awards for its never-before-seen and wildly ambitious visual effects.
Mainly, though, it was the awe-inspiringly beautiful world of Pandora, upon which the movie is set, that attracted the most praise, thanks to its ethereal, dream-like setting that gave true meaning to the word fantastical.
And there is the main challenge that faces Toruk – The First Flight, a Cirque du Soleil production in town until Tuesday January 16 – how do you recreate a CGI world in the Dubai World Trade Centre?
The answer? Spectacularly, as far as we’re concerned. There’s a combination of computer generated effects, vibrant neon ultraviolet lighting, projections, pulleys, trap doors, movable set design and more, all of which contribute to making an otherwise static set transform into a range of otherworldly settings.
Throughout the performance, the story progresses from location to location as the main characters search for the five relics that will save the Tree of Souls – the planet’s main life-giver that is mysteriously losing its joie de vivre.
And each relocation is done seamlessly – from dense tropical jungle, to barren desert wasteland, and even an act based in the movie’s famous floating mountains – there’s no awkward time spent waiting for stage hands to rearrange things, nor is there needless vamping from the narrator. No, this is a seamless, professional and quite frankly stunning visual performance – worthy of the movie’s accolades.
Helping the audience get involved is a dedicated app prompting you to hold up your smartphone at specific times. At these points in the show, the screens light up brilliantly, adding a tremendous extra dimension to proceedings, although the audience may need some more encouragement to download the app.
Before heading to Toruk – The First Flight, we’d thoroughly recommend downloading the app of the same name.
Set design aside, there comes a well-synchronised, engaging and at times daring acrobatic and dance performance. Think spinning dinosaur skeletons, aerial silk dancing, mountain climbing (during which the mountain actually erodes in front of the audience), and, spectacularly, a huge mythical dragon flying through the auditorium.
In short, if you’ve been contemplating whether or not to go and see this production during its limited run, don’t hang around. You won’t regret heading to this world-class show.
From Dhs315. Daily until Tue Jan 16, performance times vary. Dubai World Trade Centre, www.tixbox.com