Criss Angel: Believe, with Cirque du Soleil is playing inside the showroom at the Luxor Hotel.
This is the
long awaited collaboration of two unlikely participants, and the result is something that is
interesting, but not truly blended or at ease with each other yet. Right now it feels like a
partnership, and I wonder
if, during any part of the creative process, the two parties looked at each other and thought
that maybe this
wasn't a good idea.
In all fairness, there have been several Cirque shows that have opened badly, but one of the
great things about
Cirque is that they never give up on a project and they don't ever stop the creative
process...all of the shows
eventually get to a point of greatness. "Believe" will get there as well, but it is still
quite a way off.
The show opens with Criss Angel and a tribute to "Mindfreak," the show that made him notable in
place, with a lot of running around, yelling, and video of things that he has done...now all of
this could have
been done without Cirque. Then there is a gruesome and disturbing accident, and we go into the
section---which is all about Cirque and would have been better without Criss Angel.
Disappointingly, this is probably the worst written and conceived Cirque show. The biggest cop
out of all is
setting the bulk of it as a "dream sequence"---that is essentially what you do when you can't
think of anything
else. It all hinges on the belief that Angel is creating this hallucinated world from a staged
you can't make that leap, then the rest of it is completely contrived. It would actually take
a really good
actor to get the audience to take that leap, and Angel's acting skills are not up to the task.
of doing the "where am I" routine, he could acknowledge the accident and us and take us on this
would effectively eliminate the bad acting and move us forward...but they're not there yet.
The show has heavy
influence and borrowing from "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Wizard of Oz," complete with the
right out of the movie.
This is not a magic show, but instead it becomes a magical journey. The attempt is to
illusions into the story. At this stage, some of them work and some of them feel very forced.
There is no new
magic. These are the same tricks that we can see up and down the Strip, but they are redressed
to give them a
different feel. In this redressing they have also made some good and bad choices. For
example, when Angel
does the metamorphosis trick (a classic Houdini illusion,) they use smoke for the masking and
than a cloth...an interesting choice, but smoke often doesn't completely cover, nor does it
It lingers, and while some of the audience sees the trick, others have to wait until the smoke
because of this, it is less magical. Currently there doesn't seem to be an attempt at
resolving some of the
bigger story gaffs...Angel is sawed in half, taken off stage, and then shows up at his own
explain? It doesn't have to make sense. Anything can happen, remember? It's a dream
sequence. (Which is also
why it is a cop out.)
There is a lot of good stuff in this production, and as I said earlier, Cirque will keep
working with this
production until they get it right...but like I also said, it's going to take a while. There
wonderful and beautiful images in the show. There are some stunning sequences. There are
times of amazement
and amusement. The clowns, the dancers and the acrobats are, of course, world-class
performers. There are a lot of great elements in this production...and it will come