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The Blue & Gray Press | May 28, 2018

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Criss Angel in Vegas: Illusion or Delusion?

Criss Angel’s Cirque du Soleil show “Believe” in Las Vegas was definitely not what I had expected. Angel, the illusionist who you may have seen in his very own show “Mindfreak,” is known for his over the top, mind boggling stunts and this show delivered just that.

As I was sitting in the theatre waiting for the show to begin in the Luxor hotel, the “Criss Angel” gothic aurora shined through immensely. The entire theatre was dark, dingy, foggy and frightening looking with music that enhanced the feel, just what I had expected. But, when the show proceeded, that dreariness was quickly diminished when Angel’s quirky assistants took the stage with their joke infested acts. Much to my surprise, the tone of the show took an unexpected twist when it became comical rather than the edgy persona that is Criss Angel, which was kind of disappointing.

As the show progressed, I couldn’t help but ask myself why the “Cirque du Soleil” title was attached to this show. “Believe” did not exude the complete theatrical feel that most Cirque du Soleil shows contain which was very misleading. Angel included the audience, told stories about himself and how he got introduced to magic and even showed childhood pictures of himself along the way. I expected the show to be much more theatrically inclined and less personal since the Cirque du Soleil title was attached to “Believe.”

Another criticism of the show would have to be the way in which the stunts were constructed. At one point, Angel was showing a picture of himself potty training and soon after, a huge, thick saw was being rolled out onto the stage to create the illusion of a woman being sawed in half. These completely different points throughout the show made it seem very unbalanced and very peculiar.

“Believe” also left me with a feeling that the stunts could maybe have been fabricated in some way. When Angel was actually acting out a stunt, the stage turned darker, the strobe lights were going and the music was blaring. These things were distractions, at least to me, and I felt like there possibly could have been mechanical things attached to the stunts such as strings suspended from the ceiling holding up Angel or his assistant during a levitation act. I would have liked to have seen the stunts done in the way that they are shown online or on the strip in Vegas, with no distractions, simply magic and illusion.

Although I was left with the feeling that the stunts could have been fabricated and there were things that definitely could have been done to enhance the show, the show still delivered a thrill to the viewer. I left the show asking myself, “How in the world is that possible?” All of the stunts Angel showed were mind-provoking. In several instances, Angel or his assistants were in one part of the stage and the not even a second later, they appeared in a completely different location in a matter of a split second.
Criss Angel has without a doubt taken magic and illusion to the next level, a level beyond comprehension. Angel has certainly redefined magic, and he will not stop there. The question is, “What will he do next?”

“Believe” was not anywhere close to what I expected. The show wasn’t the greatest in my opinion but Criss Angel himself and what he does is fascinating.

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