Not very long ago, when I’d crave a generous helping of the arts, I’d head to the performing arts spaces in the city, or I’d book myself a tour around the galleries at DIFC or wander in the bylanes of Alserkal Avenue. Not anymore. This time to satiate my hunger for arts, I headed to PLAY Restaurant & Lounge at The H Dubai. What unfolded within the next few minutes of me finding my seat in the venue on the 36th floor of the hotel was sheer talent on the stage, on the floors, and, of course, genius, skill-worthy dishes doled out from the kitchen as well. The hues of caramel and gold meet luxe black form the interior scape of the restaurant offering a fusion of Mediterranean and Japanese cuisines. It’s luxury from the moment you walk in, be it the attention that the servers provide, the presentation of the food, or the performances. Of course, you can peep at the Dubai skyline from that level, but I didn’t, for I was in awe of the show indoors.
Snugged in our chairs, I admired the bunch of five females taking over the stage, dressed in luxe black with smoking pipes in their hands and feathers as accessories. At one point, I told my companion that it feels like we were on the sets of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, and at a destination in New York’s Upper West Side. Whilst Dubai is rather cramped up with high-end venues like the Play, this one stands apart for its subdued opulence; the furnishings aren’t gaudy and the acts aren’t gimmicky. The latter are innovative though, especially when the ladies come dressed in tea skirts and pearls, with makeshift TV boxes as head gears; what’s interesting is that the TV boxes are up and running, with scenes in black and white from a retro world, which when teamed up with a play of the trumpet and violin, leave one overwhelmed with sheer talent under one roof. A few acts later, I observed that all the performers are females, and whilst I’m not a clichéd feminist, let’s just say I did applaud the loudest when they appeared in pin-striped suits wearing Charlie Chaplin-like moustaches and put up a perfectly timed subtle humorous act on the stage. The bow-ties and hats only added to the look! The intimate touch of the show happens to be the artists’ act of walking to each table, whether greeting them whilst enacting the part, or simply walking around the space with props and instruments in tow. The vocalists with multi-octave ranges create a calming ambience, and you’d be tempted to close your eyes for a few moments to absorb the tranquillity of the performance. And at other points, get into the showbiz mode and join in the staff as they cheer on the performers, and become a part of the act, almost.
The 300+ seating venue refers to it as a restaurant and lounge that provides a magical entertainment experience rather than the opposite. Having said that, if you are a vegetarian like yours truly, you’ll have to be content with barely any choices to select from. I did like my portion of Vegetable Futomaki, a mix of Yamagobo, Asparagus, Avocado, Cucumber, Mango, and Yuzu Miso, but I would have loved to explore the food further. For those beyond the greens, the Spider Maki Black Rice Roll (Softshell Crab tempura, Yuzu skin, Wasabi Mayo, Daikon) and the Wagyu Sirloin MB-7 are served with a selection of signature dips; count for repeat trips. Yes, whilst food does add to the experience and I did miss eating heartily, I did walk out feeling content, and took back with me arty episodes.
P.S: I’m certain that male performers put up lovely acts on other nights, and also perhaps did after we left. However, I was happy to support the female squad. The show runs until late, I was told.
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