My full review of Cirque Du Soliel's Crystal
So we went last weekend to see the latest Cirque Du Soliel show, “Crystal”
As noted in my initial take away, my main impression is that it’s a great show for the younger set (and if you really like ice skating), but overall, I was underwhelmed.
Some really clever standout moments, but it's basically Ice Capades, but not really up to my standards for a Cirque show.
So let’s look at this at a Positives/Negatives with a rating on a scale of 1(eh) - 10 (Fantastic):Set Design - 9/10
a really stunning set, that makes great use of an overhead rig that projects onto the ice, so as the skaters move the projections “follow” them onto the ice. The projection also allows them to change the ice rink into multiple different environments/settings.
There’s also snow machines on the rig, so thruout the show, there’s snowfall in the area (which makes it very cold as the show progresses), but also is a really stunning visual, and the crowd loved it the several times the effect is utilized.
The main backdrop is kind of a mountain, but has steps and ramps, and a train set that moves around the top. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that too gets some projection mapping done on it, and is used very well thruout the show to forward the storyline.Merch Tables - 9/10
I think this is actually the 1st Cirque show that I’ve been to where I didn’t buy anything from the merch table (I tend to wait until after I’ve seen a show, and I went into this one knowing nothing about it). . . but the variety of things offered is very good (the standard shirts, sweatshirts, magnets. . but also crystal paperweights, crystal capped pens, earrings/jewelry, LED flashing Snowballs, and stuffed dolls of the main girl character, Crystal).
Obviously they know (or expected) their audience is going to be younger for this, and things were priced accordingly. I have *never* seen a merch table with such reasonable prices (the most expensive thing was the Sweatshirts for $50, which is a smart move because I’m sure those sold as the arena got colder ). It really did seem as if every other child was walking around with the Crystal stuffed doll. And those that didn’t had the LED snowballs. Really smart merchandising, and pricing.Quality of the performances - 7/10
There were a couple of standout performances, with near the top being the clown for this show. He was extremely well versed in pantomime, and interacted very often with the crowd (the preshow, throwing snowballs back and forth with the audience, and the “ice-dancing” with the lamp being the two standouts, but he was great thruout).
the hanging ropes couple, the chair balancer, and the Ice Dancers / Ice Gymnast stunt players were all stellar as well.
Not quite as good (but still great) were the trapeze act, the gymnasts, the pole vaulters, and the speed/stunt team skaters.
but the Jugglers, the lead skater, and the majority of the main company were only decent to middling, with lots of missed cues and dropped props. It’s a live show (and on ice), so I am willing to give a wider berth for errors, and even a “decent to middling” cirque performance is still ahead of most other performances, sod didn’t hold it too much against them.Appropriateness of the performances within the context of the show - 2/10
Other than two exceptions (one in each act), the company makes very poor use of the fact the show is based on *ice* (there is a pretty spectacular set piece themed to hockey with lots of ramps/jumps, and in act 2, the "hanging ropes" makes great use of skater on the ice interacting with the hanging performer). .but for the most part?
Most acts seem to just be transported into this show with no concern how/why it interacts with the ice.
The chair balancing act is spectacular. But why is it in THIS show? And why is it on the ice? (and it’s not even ON the ice, it’s on a table in the center of the ice. . . it makes no sense).
Same with the jugglers. . why is it on Ice? They didn’t really do any skating while juggling (a large set piece during this segment is them on steps that are pushed out so they can do the “bounce off the floor” juggling. Again, impressive, but I don’t get why in a show set on ice?
The “pole climber” act – the poles are suspended from the ceiling rig over the ice, so yeah, impressive the stunts they are doing between the poles (in particular when they start them swinging back and forth and jump between them. But interacting with the ice? Nope, not at all.
Same said about the gymnasts, as well as the hanging trapeze – the performers working with the “catcher” on the single trapeze was wearing skates, as he picked her up from the ice, but they pretty much all worked over pads laid down on the ice so they could get good traction (I assume).
I know I sound as if I’m picking, but why set a show on Ice, if the vast majority of the acts don’t make good use of that fact? The Ice Dancers / Ice Gymnasts were great, but they were only 2 segments of the show?Story/Costumes - 3/10
the story is VERY broadly sketched – I THINK it was: "girl who is teased for being herself, falls thru the ice, and into a world where she fights her "expected" self, to see who she really is by interacting with the creatures undersea" (or something like that).
Really needed some tweaking. Most cirque show storylines are “dreamlike” , “non-linear”, or slightly non-sensical.
but this one kind of lost us. . .there are large segments where she’s fighting her twin (not sure why), where she’s put to work in an underwater office typing with dozens of other businessmen (not sure why), or – speaking of those businessmen/women – she’s skating among drones carrying large metal briefcases.
is it a statement on that’s her ‘expected’ life? Grow up and get a boring job? No idea.. and confusing.
as to the Costumes, they for some reason went with very muted/bland cosutumes, lots of whites, greys and blues. . . so instead of "popping" a lot of the performers just blended in with the backgrounds, as the projections overhead overlayed the ice. It seems to have been on purpose, but not really sure why. . it didn't help with the storytelling at all.Music - 1/10
I think, perhaps, the biggest disappointment to me was the soundtrack (which before the show, was discussing with a table-clerk how odd it was that the CD was not on sale at the merch booth. . . and honestly after seeing the show, I would not have bought it if it had been.
A *huge* part of the Cirque experience for me is the live, original, music.
There IS some original music here – mainly “bluegrass”/”40’s style” music. This show seemed to have several live musicians playing during the show (mainly violin, sax, and woodwinds), but performing along with pre-recorded tracks (if there was a full orchestra anywhere, they did not come out for bows, nor did any live singer take a bow).
Not necessarily a negative to me. . but the covering of more current pop songs, and mixing in non-original songs was a huge negative to me.
This cast performed to covers of songs by: Sia (Chandelier), Beyonce (Halo), U2 (Beautiful Day), and even Nina Simone (Sinnerman).
I really wish there had been more original music overall score: 31/ 60
. . . not a great score.
oh well, the kiddos really liked it, so if you’ve never seen a Cirque show, or you really enjoy watching skating, then I’d recommend it.
but otherwise, it would rank somewhere outside the top 10 Cirque shows I’ve seen, and I wouldn’t see it again if I had the opportunity to (and only two other shows have that distinction: we didn’t care for Zumanity in Vegas, and were not all that impressed with Verakai either, tho I like the soundtrack to that one).
Pics are from thruout the show. . I tried to take at least one for each act/set, just to give an idea of what it looked like since I had planned to post a review.