I’m not a fan of touristy shows. No matter how spectacular they are, story always outweighs spectacle. That makes for a meaningful experience for me.
But I wanted to like The House of Dancing Water, the show that packs in 2000 people each night in Macau at the City of Dreams Resort.
And it is a spectacle. An amazing water pool has motorized stages including the towering sails of a ship rising from the depths to the ceiling then completely disappearing, incredible feats of athletics including gymnastics, stilt walkers, contortion, high diving, water acrobatics, and pyramiding, and BMX motorcross, and bombastic music and theatrics.
But I didn’t get the story.
And I didn’t get the casting.
From the mind of Franco Dragone, known for his Cirque de Soleil shows, you’d expect more spectacle than anything decipherable as far as story. More concept than anything else, it’s supposedly a familiar love story with some dude saving a captured princess from an evil person. Then there’s a fisherman and some African tribes who help the dude and a lot of hot pirates swinging their hot bodies on ropes and diving in the water. Luckily we didn’t sit in the front rows or else we’d get wet. Most who did brought umbrellas and ponchos—blankets were handed out as well.
I didn’t understand why the dude was white. In fact, most of the pirates were white. So was the evil queen. The princess was Asian and so was the fisherman who I guessed turn into the next ruler.
As strong as the Chinese diving program is, I didn’t understand why there weren’t more Chinese performers. This was Macau, after all!
This is the only theater that this can be performed—it utilizes 1.7 million gallons of water which is more than five Olympic sized swimming pools, and it’s been going on for four years now.
The use of different hydraulic stages is unique with different levels of water play at any given moment. The press info says that the costumes are made of neoprene which makes the costumes able to withstand the effect of water and the cosmetics are water proof, imported from France.
The use of the contortionist and the pyramiders, all of African descent, was quite odd…and seemed a little racist. Anytime a group of people are depicted as a group of people and not individual is bound to be taken as such.
But the biggest problem is the odd story. If there weren’t an attempt at a story, I’d be happy with just a feature of incredible athletics. Instead this mixture of spectacle and story doesn’t splash down with any resonance.