Chris Dugdale: 2 Faced Deception (1 star)

This article is from 2012.

Chris Dugdale: 2 Faced Deception

Overly slick presentation with rehashed tricks

If you haven’t caught a whiff of Chris Dugdale’s act before, his opening gambit may well blow you away. Unfortunately, if you have seen it, you’re in for a tedious introductory ten minutes, as he rehashes his most famous work over again (and then, through the tacky medium of his showreel, yet again). There are a few scattered moments of truly impressive trickery, but Dugdale’s smarmy persona, McIntyrean gurning and insistence on wringing two rounds of applause from every reveal effectively douse any sparks of wonderment. His glossy promo brochures and Vegas-y persona single out an act at odds with the ephemeral Spirit of the Fringe – we like a magician with a bit of genuine character round these parts.

Chris Dugdale's 2 Faced Deception

  • 1 star

Middleton Enterprises. From ITV's Penn & Teller: Fool Us, and his critically-acclaimed West End show of magic and mind control, experience the cheek and charm of Dugdale's devious deceptions. 'More jaw-dropping in the first 20 minutes than two hours and 20 minutes of Derren Brown's Svengali' ( 'A…


1. Fiona Mac9 Aug 2012, 1:53pm Report

Niki Boyle - your comments are so harsh! Chris's show was hugely entertaining! What's wrong with being polished, professional and entertaining? I'm off to Las Vegas next month and would gladly go to a show of Chris's there. How fab to have him on our doorstep in Edinburgh!

2. Elliot11 Aug 2012, 7:36am Report

@ Niki Boyle - I think this was a brilliant show, and was presented very well as a magic show. The visuals were not tacky and were very well done, and the show as a whole was constructed very well, with a start, middle and end.

There were gasps of astonishment , and large round of applause's from the audience after tricks had climaxed and there seemed to be a real buzz after the show.

I really don't understand how you can have a show that is too polished - performers work hard on their act, and I can see from watching the show that Chris and his team have put a lot of work and practice into it.

I personally feel that it's a disgrace to give it 1 star as the show I saw was definitely an amazing 5 star show!

3. Maria715 Aug 2012, 10:01pm Report

@Niki Boyle...Firstly I thought the show was great. I thought Chris had a great relationship with the audience and his cheeky demeanor was adorable!

I thought there were more than 'a few scattered moments of truly impressive trickery'. In the show I attended there were real laughs, gasps and nearly everyone left with a smile on their face. Maybe you should go again (this time without your notebook and harsh pen) and watch the show as an actual participant. Maybe then you'll actually get it!!!

I agree with Elliot above it's by no means a 1* show. I hope this unnecessarily nasty review doesn't deter other Fringe-goers from going along.

Lastly, does anyone know if he's single? I think after your nasty comments he's going to need a hug or more!!!

4. Jonno9919 Aug 2012, 3:47pm Report

This review is an inslut to phil jay.

5. V Young20 Aug 2012, 7:48pm Report

Wow.  Niki did you fall out the wrong side of bed on the day you reviewed Chris Dugdale's performance?  Or did you want to be a magician when you were a kid and now seeing Chris makes you upset and jealous because you never got to fulfil your dream? 
I ask because surely there must be something underlying to generate such a venomous review of someone who is charismatic, professional and truly passionate about his craft?
I think I speak for a large percentage of Fringe-goers when I say that I want to watch something slick and entertaining - not some improvisational arty fluff with a guy pretending to be a tree!!
Four of us saw 2 Faced Deception and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Chris builds a great rapport with his audience from the offset and the tricks are enthralling throughout!  Your review of the show is beyond harsh, and your character assassination of Chris is just downright nasty and uncalled for - it borders on a personal attack and I think you should be utterly ashamed of yourself!  You are absolutely entitled to have an opinion, but all performers whether or not you like their show or their personality, deserve the utmost respect for putting themselves out there.  In my humble opinion you have shown yourself to be entirely unprofessional, and quite frankly, caustic.
Do you even stop to think and realise the potential impact of such a unwarranted poor review to ticket sales for a show?  A show that an entire team have spent time and money putting together to bring to Edinburgh?  The List should be encouraging world-class acts to come to our city and perform - not be trashing them for not being 'Fringey enough'!
You have also did a great disservice to people visiting the Fringe who will potentially be discouraged from seeing 2 Faced Deception based upon your scathing vitriol.  There are so many shows on during the festival that it can become quite overwhelming for visitors trying to select a show; people rely on the supposed 'professional opinion' of critics like yourself.  I think it's safe to say that when I select my next Fringe performance I shall be picking another of the shows rated 1-star by you because I'm sure it will also turn out to be fantastic!

6. Stuart.20 Aug 2012, 7:58pm Report

Dont mean to be rude....but did you see the same show the rest of us did!!?? I went for Laser eye a few weeks ago, think you may need it done too!! Chris is fantastic, what a show he put on!!!! Would recommend anyone to see him!!!!! Go Chris!!

7. Sarah Kay20 Aug 2012, 8:16pm Report

I agree with all the above fab comments made to Chris! Niki, 1st of all have you missed a 2nd "K" out on your name?!? Anyway I saw Chris the other night with my Boyfriend, mum and dad and wee brother, we were all (sorry to quote Lonestar) "Amazed" indeed by your talent!! What a show Chris, keep up the good work, true entertainer! Dont listen to the meanies!!!!!! xxxxx

8. Ashley J20 Aug 2012, 8:55pm Report

Niki Boyle what a bore you are!! A group of us attended Chris's show last night and thought the show was excellent. Chris entertained, wowed and stunned with his magic and the audience loved it! A polished, fun performance it was - perhaps Niki would have preferred the old school rabbit out of hat! Go see the show and enjoy!

9. Niki at The List21 Aug 2012, 5:16pm

Wow - a lot of points raised here, and I'm glad to see so many Fringe-goers enthusiastic about a show, even if I'm not. Since there's been such a thorough backlash, I'll try and address the main points raised.

Fiona Mac, Elliot and Ashley J:
My problem with Chris Dugdale's show was not that it was polished and professional (see my four star review of Pete Firman [] for an example of a show that is precisely that) - it's that Dugdale himself offered us no trace of a personality, instead aiming to be a shiny totem of showbiz glamour. The glossy brochure and the mid-show highlight reel (which basically consisted of a recap of the trick he had just shown us live) reinforced the impression that I was being sold a product. A look at Dugdale's website [] (which carries logos of all the corporations he's proudly entertained) doesn't do him any favours in this department either. When I go to a Fringe show, I want what I'm watching to be the end product, rather than an appeal to potential investors.

Maria7 and V Young:
Aside from Dugdale's persona (or lack thereof), my main problem with the show was repetition of material. The first trick was already shown on national TV, as part of Penn & Teller's Fool Us; it was also highlighted in an article Dugdale wrote for The List just one week before []; it was also repeated on-screen immediately after Dugdale had completed it; it was also harked back to every 10 minutes or so when Dugdale interacted with his projection screen. His 'wooing' of a female audience member (with undeniably tacky sound effects) I found, frankly, sleazy and uncomfortable, and fork-bending stopped being cool with Uri Geller (if indeed it ever was).

As for putting off people with my scathing review - good. That's what it's there for. My job as a reviewer is not to make Fringe acts feel warm and rosy about coming here, but to advise readers on which shows I think are worth seeing, and which aren't worth wasting time on.

Sarah Kay:
If you have issues with the spelling of my name, please take it up with my parents. God knows I have.

10. Anna J22 Aug 2012, 3:56pm Report

Just to add my two pennies worth, I saw this show the other night & couldn't agree more with everyone else who has commented here.

Yes, this show is slick (and I'm normally someone who prefers shows with a more organic, homemade feel to them), but when I saw it there was genuine audience engagement, and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. Isn't that the purpose of an entertainment show?

I'm glad the reviewer took the time to respond to the comments.
However, as a so-called 'professional', I think she should have declined to review this show as it seems she has a pre-existing personal dislike of Chris Dugdale, so went in with the attitude that she wasn't going to like it.

Us fringe punters do want to know your opinion to help us decide what to see, but your opinion needs to be censored by your own sense of professionalism, otherwise it's just having a rant (like what I'm doing now!).

I would personally be ashamed to have published such a blatantly biased review, but then, what do I know...?

She may as well have just written 'don't like it' for all the objectivity and value this review contains.

Well done Chris & team on a slick and entertaining show, and a lovely glossy free programme :-)

There is plenty at the fringe to satisfy any cravings for 'ephemeral', held-together-with-gaffer-tape shows; surely there is room for an hour of well-put-together magic too?

Go and see it.

The reviewer is not always right, they just happen to have chosen a career that gives them a lot of influence over those of us who have to exercise professionalism and objectivity when at work! ;-)

11. Sarah Kay22 Aug 2012, 9:09pm Report

I only agree with your response to my previous comment, the rest you have written is................untypable!!!!! Please apologise to Chris for a personal attack!!!!! You must admit that was uncalled for since you are a professional, or are you!?!? We still love Chris!!!!

12. Stuart.22 Aug 2012, 9:14pm Report

Nikki with one "k".........I take it you DO need laser eye, since I didnt get a personal response like all the others did above, or was my point hit a nerve...? Sarah Kay you are a legend who ever you are!! Go Chris, you are the man!!!! Ashley J your comments are no bad either!!!

13. V Young22 Aug 2012, 11:15pm Report

Niki, firstly I appreciate the response. It is actually more than I expected from you based on the amount of times you were called out on the points you made in your review. I thought you may be in hiding from the baying crowd!!

Secondly, afer your explanation, I still strongly disagree with the your review and feel that you should have explained your grievances with the specific elements of Chris Dugdale's show that you disliked more clearly from the offset. This would have achieved a more detailed and objective piece, which would have benefited those people reading it by allowing them to make an informed decision as to whether it sounds like a show they would like to see or not. Your review basically said 'this guy and his show suck - don't go!'

If you didn't enjoy or like the show, that's absolutely your right and no one is asking you to lie, but be a bit less blinkered to your own opinions and give people the pertinent information they need to make up their own minds as to whether to attend the show when they read your review. I genuinely hope that Fringe-goers have not avoided this show based on your review because that would be a great shame, as you seem to be the only person I've come across who hasn't enjoyed it!

In response to your rebuttle I would like to make the following points:

- Your comment to Fiona Mac, Elliot & Ashley J:
At no point during 2 Faced Deception did any of my group feel that we were being marketed at or inadvertenly hit on for investment by Chris and his team - I really don't know where you got that from. The show was enjoyable from start to end, and I can't see anything wrong with a quick recap of some career highlights to date? I would say this was used as a build up of what was to come during the show, not some sort of sales pitch, and I haven't heard anyone except you comment otherwise.

In addition, I am thoroughly frustrated by your criticism of Chris's website and brochures - of couse these are used as marketing tools?? But I do not see what relevance their content has to the criticisms made in your review. Performers make a living from their work, in order to do that, they need bookings, so what exactly do you want them to put on their websites and brochures? I'm a multi-national sales manager for a $0.5bn company and am very familiar with marketing - you have irritated me to the point that I have sat down and taken a look at these myself to see if I can somehow work out what you're getting at here. I'm trying to be objective (one of us has to be!) and give you the benefit of the doubt, but God knows Niki, I give up!! Professionally, I can assure you that there has a been a lot of time, resource and careful marketing put into creating these. All I can conclude is that you're displaying some sort of delusional, arty-farty 'stick-it-to-the-man'-type anti-snobbery here - but seriously, how would you prefer that an artist makes their living and promotes their shows? I would genuinely be interested to hear your professional ideas on this matter? This is 2012 - do you expect them to use no proactive marketing tools at all and wait for future gigs to fall into their laps??

Your comment to myself and Maria7:
- Do you really think you are helping your case by having another pop at poor Chris's persona when you're trying to defend your review Niki?
My group had a great time at the show, and I can assure you there was nothing sleazy about the female from the audience ending up on the stage, one of my crowd was that lady the other night and had a lot of fun up there!

What I and - judging by the comments above - most others feel most strongly about is your lack of self-control regarding the personal snipes you launched at Chris in your review! I think that was entirely unprofessional on your part and I would actually suggest that you make a written apology to Chris for your derogatory text.
Regardless of your enjoyment or not, nothing gives you the right to criticise a performer based on their personal character, that's utter subjectivity and is unacceptable. It belongs in the playground, not in a respected publication like The List. A publication which I actually strongly feel should review your employment status wth the same level of acerbity as you have reviewed this show.

14. Donald Nammer24 Aug 2012, 10:32am Report

If I disagreed with a review (and Lord knows I often do) I'd probably chalk it up to a difference in taste. I might take the time to offer a quick rebuttle along the lines of, "I really enjoyed the show." I'm surprised that people who have no link to this show (not friends, family or crew) would take the trouble to write wordy vociferous personal insults at the reviewer. Since these people are not friends, family or crew I'm surprised they're so angry.

15. Elliot24 Aug 2012, 10:45am Report

@Niki , Congratulations , you seem to have won an award at the Fringe this year!

Ian Rowland is a professional UK and US writer, and a very respected magician. Please see his comments below on your review:

"Edinburgh Fringe Awards #4.
Worst Case Of Ignorant Reviewer Abuse: Chris Dugdale, '2 Faced Deception'.

Chris James Dugdale and his hard-working crew put together a brilliant show for the Fringe. The show, which has already enjoyed very successful sell-out runs in London and elsewhere, has high production values and genuinely tries to bring something new and innovative to the notion of a magic show.

Unfortunately the show was massacred by the critics, who were not content to just award it 1 and 2 star reviews but also seemed determined to assassinate Chris's character and send him weeping into the arms of the nearest therapist.

This was, in my opinion, a travesty. It was not only massively unfair to Chris, but also unfair to the many Fringe-goers who WOULD have enjoyed the show, and been astonished by the many very clever twists and turns involved, if they hadn't been dissuaded by the critics and their ignorant jibes. To be sure, there's a lot of rubbish on at the Fringe that richly deserves damning reviews and thin audiences. This show was not one of them.
Was it a perfect show? No. Was it the best magic show I saw? No. But at the very least, Chris and his team deserve some respect and praise for what they put together, and even the harshest critic should have put this in the '3 star' bracket. A great shame, and a shining example of irresponsible critics hurting what they ought to be praising."

Congratulations once again Niki!

16. Mikey Doody25 Aug 2012, 12:18am Report

Donald- I'd imagine most of the comments on this thread are actually from representatives of Middleton Enterprises or indeed Dugdale himself.

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