Step inside David Parr's Cabinet of Curiosities | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Step inside David Parr's Cabinet of Curiosities 

The magic goes beyond what you see onstage.

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

click to enlarge david_parr-cabinet_of_curiosities-2.jpg

David Linsell

Magician David Parr brings old-school magic to life every week at the Chicago Magic Lounge. But the magic isn't limited to when Parr takes the stage. Hidden behind a laundromat, the Chicago Magic Lounge immerses visitors in a replica of an early 20th-century magic bar, once a staple of the city. The atmosphere leaves little to the imagination, complete with period-appropriate decor, a cocktail menu, and up-and-coming magicians performing tableside tricks in the hour leading up to Parr's performance.

Over the course of his one-hour show, Parr takes his audience on a choose-your-own-adventure-style journey through his "Cabinet of Curiosities" containing magical objects he's collected over the course of his career, such as golden goblets, a childhood book, and an old deck of playing cards. He tells the story of each one and performs classic tricks, inviting audience members to assist him along the way. He uses the final moments of his show to share a modern trick of his own creation that earned him a spot on Penn and Teller Fool Us and brings his historical exploration to a natural conclusion.

Parr's tricks are simple and the items he uses to perform them are staples: scarves, thread, playing cards. But despite the familiarity of Parr's brand of magic, his show is entertaining, largely as a result of his ability to engage an enthusiastic audience. He's a theatrical storyteller and a skilled magician but he also possesses a self-awareness of the absurdity of his profession that gives the show a fresh quality despite its traditional ambience and classic contents.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
April 30
Performing Arts
June 26

Popular Stories