A peek behind the curtain shows a crowd laughing one second and gasping with amazement the next. The magician onstage is not pulling rabbits out of hats. Instead he's pulling vases of flowers out of iPads. The crowd is having such a good time that they don’t stop to think how the hell he’s doing it. This is an average performance for magician and Dallas resident Trigg Watson.
This is a family-friendly show, so parents of younger teens have a legitimate reason to bring their kids to a wine bar. While some magic shows can delve into the risqué, Watson works completely clean. His sharp wit is free from curse words, and any double entendres are so carefully placed within his act that the younger audience members will wonder why all the adults are laughing.
Watson keeps his performance intimate without excluding the audience in the back of the room. Throughout the show, he turns on a camera that projects a live feed onto a screen, so the magic is easy for everyone to see. He’s a performer so confident and well-trained that even with the scrutiny of an up-close view of his hands, you won’t be able to figure out how the illusion was performed.
Watson is unequivocally one of the most focused local performers. Whether there's a small hiccup with his onstage camera or some patrons in the front bar of Checkered Past are yelling, Watson keeps control of the room. It’s a rare feat to see a magician performing sleight of hand, telling a joke to throw the audience off his scent and welcoming a table of audience members back into the room all in the same breath.
The act has a deep affinity for the classic staples of magic while dismantling those hallmarks into a reinvention of Watson’s creation. You will see card tricks and rope tricks, but Watson takes what an audience expects to see in a new direction. It’s the comfort of the familiar — lulling an audience into thinking it's seen this trick before — that allows Watson to shock people in a way they couldn’t have expected.
Magicians tend to operate within a realm of the overly grand, the impossibly big, and while fans of magic always welcome that, Watson subverts this trope as well. His presence on the stage is that of someone you know, someone you’re comfortable with and — most important for what he needs to do — someone you trust. There’s an inherent likability in the way Watson allows himself to just be on the stage and to talk to you with an earnestness of someone happy to see a friend.
When the show is over, you don't leave wondering how he performed his illusions but rather like you just caught up with an old friend from out of town. That might be the best trick of them all.
Tickets are $20.