I was recently reading a Chicago Tribune review of Dennis Watkins' solo show, "The Magic Parlour," which is running at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel. What struck me most is the writer's rather condescending tone, which I think reflects his bias towards magic entertainment. Despite the "little" digs, the final sentence does seem to reluctantly acknowledge the sophistication of the show.
First there's the repeated use of "little." "But there is very much a retro tinge to the magician Dennis Watkins' little solo collection of sleights of hand, performed in one of the historic, wood-paneled private dining rooms..." says the story.
"It was an intimate little scene, the kind a great old city with a crucial tourist trade should accommodate," the story says in another paragraph.
What jumps out at me is the word "simple." "'The Magic Parlour' is a simple entertainment in the Ricky Jay mold: old-fashioned trickery performed very well in an ideal setting by a man with a heart and a story who craves being close to his audience. It's about an hour and a sophisticated, thoughtful night-cap."
Despite "little" and "simple," I'll take the words "sophisticated" and "thoughtful." But how can a show be "simple" and "sophisticated" at the same time? And why is an entertainer "craving" to be close to his audience?
Am I over-reacting? You can read the story here.