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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magic names and the media » » My Review of Believe! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

longhaired1
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(Just got back from Believe!. I am not an Angel basher and I know it has all been said before, but here is another man's take on the situation)

There are several levels of bad. There is just plain bad. There is mediocrity. There is my favourite level; Bad that is so bad that it is good. And then there is Believe, Cirque Du Soleils show at The Luxor starring Criss Angel. It is a new category of bad.

Unlike some reviewers I have no axe to grind with Criss Angel. I don't care who he dates, or who he has upset here in Vegas. In fact I was surprised at his level of likeability on stage. It was not stellar by any means but it was an area that I thought would be his weakest suit. I really wish that was all that is wrong with this show.

The show fails on every level. It fails as a magic show, it fails as a Cirque production, and it fails as performance art. The only thing that really works are the four clown characters who thread throughout the show.

There is a story arc, several in fact, but they are so badly executed that they might as well not even exist. The show begins as a regular magic show but the star is injured early on and the rest of the show plays out as an "inside the mind of the magician" tale. So far so good, until you dissect the plot a little further. The trick that goes wrong is foiled because some chick tampers with the equipment. Earlier she is on stage running one of the cameras and appearantly Angel upsets her. The whole thing is so poorly executed that we have no idea why she is upset with him and why she sabotages the show. But even that early in the show we really don't care.

A story arc that is common in magic shows these days is the dark antagonist who appears throughout the show to torment the magician. Lance Burton does it well, Hans Klok did it fairly well when he was in town. Otherwise that particularly theatrical device is pretty well played out and magicians need to abandon it for a fresh idea. In the case of Believe!, it would have been nice to have some idea of who the chick in black is and why she has a beef with Angel. I presume she is the same chick who was running the camera earlier and tampered with the show, but getting me, the audience member, up to speed on that plot seemed to be a pretty low priority. A strange choice for a theatrical production.

Bad choices are really the hallmark of this whole show. The imagery is dark, but not dark and beautiful but just plain ugly. Other than a few brief moments the aesthetics of the production are severely lacking. It is a Cirque production that has literally one (1) aerialist and that is it for acrobatics. But it does have three (3) dick jokes. That is not a good aerialist to dick joke ratio.

Angel flubbed several spoken lines even though he has performed this show hundreds of times. He swore three times on stage. He screamed in to the microphone throughout the show and had to signal the audience to applaud for virtually every illusions. He does a few transformations under the cover of steam. I have seen video of these transformations from earlier live shows of his where the steam was ventilated quickly enough to have a very impressive effect. This evening he was shrouded by steam for at least 10 seconds, completely ruining the effect of the transformation. There was simply no illusion of the impossible in this case.

Near the climax of the show he made some passing reference to The Great Ricciardi, a South American magician that Angel claimed to be influenced by. Ricciardi would incorporate blood and gore into his magic effects, and his female victims would often not appear to survive the illusions. Angels climax was a failed attempt to pay homage to Ricciardi. He was sawed in half with a chain saw and never restored. The illusion failed on a number of levels. There was no focus during the illusion which meant the audience had no idea what they were supposed to be looking at. This was the climax of the show but Angel was "dead" and not able to signal the audience to applaud. The result was that the climax of the show, the very apex of the action, was met with crickets. Without exageration not a single person applauded the climax of the show. And believe me, it was not because they were stunned and amazed. It was purely and simply bad showmanship. It failed as a magic trick and it failed as an attempt to recreate history and pay homage to The Great Ricciardi.

I once drove a car that was in such horrible condition that the spark plugs should have been pulled, that car removed, and the spark plugs placed into a different car. The proscenium in the theatre is beautiful and the only thing that could save this show would be to save the proscenium and replace everything else. For some reason I can't blame Angel, because Cirque should know better. The tragedy as I see it is that the marriage of Cirque and magic could be great. I really think they should try it once and see how it works out. I just don't think they will do it again, and in my opinion that is too bad since the potential to create something truly breathtaking exists.

Fortunately we didn't have to pay for our tickets which is the one factor that separates the experience from prison rape, except my understanding is that prison rape doesn't always last 90 minutes. If you are offered free tickets to this show then please do the Vegas Math before deciding to go. If you are paying $1,000 to be in Vegas for 48 hours then your Vegas Time is just over $20 per hour. If the opportunity to see this show again for free arises I will pass. The only exception would be to attend with someone who hasn't seen it so I can bear witness that they saw the show and legitimize their word of mouth feedback that this is in fact a Las Vegas entertainment failure of legendary proportion.
lebowski
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I slso saw Believe for free but I wouldn't give it as good of a review as you did. I didn't like the proscenium.
M Sini
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Why is it that I still have to see this show for myself.....
Lothar
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Quote:
On 2009-10-23 11:19, Mario Orsini wrote:
Why is it that I still have to see this show for myself.....


It's the "camp" factor- the fascination with the "ridiculously absurd" .
markmiller
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Plus, on a 110 degree summer day the air conditioning helps.
edh
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Quote:
On 2009-10-23 11:19, Mario Orsini wrote:
Why is it that I still have to see this show for myself.....


Glutton for punishment, maybe? Smile
Magic is a vanishing art.
Chris H
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Long Haired One,

This review is full of win. Among my favourites...

Quote:
On 2009-10-23 01:16, longhaired1 wrote:
It is a Cirque production that has literally one (1) aerialist and that is it for acrobatics. But it does have three (3) dick jokes. That is not a good aerialist to dick joke ratio.


The proscenium in the theatre is beautiful and the only thing that could save this show would be to save the proscenium and replace everything else.


Fortunately we didn't have to pay for our tickets which is the one factor that separates the experience from prison rape, except my understanding is that prison rape doesn't always last 90 minutes.


Thanks for the laugh!

Cheers,

Chris
Slim King
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My friend and partner in an upcoming show saw Believe a couple of weeks ago and said almost exactly the same thing.
I told him not to go ... But he's his own man. Smile
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
Philemon Vanderbeck
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Sadly, I auditioned for Cirque back when they were "very interested in magic." Unfortunately, they told me at the time that I had to perform silently, so I was unable to show my really good stuff.

I could have been a contender...
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
Mindpro
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Great review, excellent perspective.
longhaired1
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Quote:
On 2009-10-25 19:45, Mindpro wrote:
Great review, excellent perspective.


Thanks.

My website http://www.vegasmagicreviews.com is down right now because I fell behind and need to get up to speed on all the current shows. I decided to develop it since the local entertainment rags don't really do a good job of reviewing magic here in town. They are advertisers supported and don't seem to want to bite the hands that feed them. Since I focus on magic and have a pretty extensive background in the art I try to bring that to the game. The stuff I write is for the lay person so I will sometimes add a caveat here on the Café when I post the reviews here.

I will say this about Believe! Criss Angel is not what is wrong with this show. His performance wasn't stellar by any means but he was not particularly painful to watch. This of course refers to the performance aspect. To the degree that he was involved in the creation of it he needs to be held responsible, but a competent director should be able to view this thing from the seats and notice the problems that my high school drama teacher taught me about years ago.
Jerskin
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I heard the hotel had to hire extra help just to issue refunds.
GrEg oTtO

MUNDUS VULT DECIPI
cairo
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Good thing they don't have a double your money back offer for dissatisfied customers.
magicfish
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I hate to say I told ya so but, ... boy did I ever. This guy is brutal.
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