Making an entrance at Cosmopolitan’s Rose. Rabbit. Lie. is futile, because they have already made the best one: the non-entrance.
Which is to say the modern social club hasn’t built the usual grand, head-swimming, budget-breaking lobby that presages a wallet-emptying night. Because once you enter, you’re in the middle of a blank hexagonal room with vague doorway outlines. Your inner comedian speaks up: So what’s behind door No. 1? But its ominousness and your disorientation recall other cultural references, like the enigmatic country mansion from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, or the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, where entering the wrong portal might lead to fiery peril.
Fret not—there are no wrong choices at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. This is, after all, the Cosmopolitan, which trumpeted itself as having “the right amount of wrong” upon its 2010 opening. And while the convention-bucking property wasn’t quite as lurid, subversive or mysterious as the marketing suggested, Rose. Rabbit. Lie. fits that profile perfectly. It comes closest to living up to the Cosmo’s promise of offering an escapade akin to a libertine’s acid trip.
It also threatens to redirect the evolution of Las Vegas nightlife. We’ve grown accustomed to main-room nightclub bombast, ephemeral sensationalism and Cirque du Soleil-esque performers within our nighttime playground, but RRL blows up that triumvirate and wraps it in a bizarro, retro-future presentation that envelopes and transports guests—to say nothing of the cocktail program and dining options (more on those in a bit).
The centerpiece of the multi-room, multi-faceted RRL experience is Vegas Nocturne, the latest ticketed show by Spiegelworld, creator of Absinthe, and its first native to Sin City. It’s like Absinthe in some ways—the off-kilter (and frequently adult) comedy, America’s Got Talent-esque acts and crowd interactivity—and novel in others, namely its three different showcases, or “cantos,” all sharing a cast but programmed with different acts.
I saw the 10 p.m. canto, which was later revealed to me as being more outrageous (and intimate) than the 8 p.m. one. I can believe this, given that my colleagues who caught the earlier edition weren’t later gasping about the “magician” with the pubic hairpiece. That’s a freebie, but the rest of the vaudevillian display is worth keeping a surprise, as the unforeseen is, like in Absinthe, one of the show’s strengths.
That more-wily 10 p.m. canto is designed to transition the main showroom into nightclub mode. A little after midnight, the Vegas Nocturne cast stages its final but shorter display, and builds up enough energy for a DJ to initiate boogie time with recognizable dance tracks and curveball remixes.
But melody isn’t limited to the dancefloor. Musical performances are woven throughout the evening and space, from the quartet in the Music Room playing old-timey covers of EDM and pop hits (which may happen during a contortionist segment) to the singer who leads a procession from the dining room (also called the Library), where a gentleman may play an 18th century glass harmonica or twin tap-dancers may bang out a tableside routine.
There’s also music being played in the Swimming Pool room, named partially for its occasional aquatic-themed vignettes. But it’s also a space where acrobats swing from the ceiling, or where cast members may set up a table and play cards or chess, so you, the diner and/or drinker and/or Nocturne-attendee-to-be, might wrinkle your brow and/or try to place the scene in whatever narrative you piece together for the evening.
In reality—a concept that rises and falls like the walls of the venue’s various rooms—RRL is all about your narrative. To wit: A tapas-dominant dining experience is available in several of the rooms, with menus evolving along with the night. (Best bets are anything with rabbit or lobster in it.) You can eat with or without a Vegas Nocturne ticket, just as you can drink in any of the bar/lounge rooms—including the Study, with its inventive updates of cocktail standards and pre-made concoctions served in vintage-minded bottles—without a dinner reservation.
Or, you can do it all and hang around as long as you’d like. Here, the right amount of wrong is up to you.
Rose. Rabbit. Lie. Thursday-Sunday, doors at 6 p.m.; Vegas Nocturne, 8 & 10 p.m. & midnight; $30-$135. Cosmopolitan, 698-7441.