‘Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself’ Review: Wow Factor Meets Why Factor
Successful magic tricks lead to oohs and aahs. Eyebrows rise, mouths frozen in shock as the impossible just … happens.
You see these reactions in “Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself” (available on Hulu) because the man is a technically excellent magician who can bend any deck of cards to his will. But you also see people crying who are overwhelmed by emotions. And that doesn’t happen at Penn & Teller or David Copperfield.
“I want to do for magic what Duchamp did for art – break it,” DelGaudio told the New York Times several years ago. For him, tricks are a means to an end. Avoiding the audacious flash of a Huckster, he is a quiet storyteller who, with tact, manipulation, and illusion, explores his self-confidence and gently invites theatergoers to do the same.
Somehow DelGaudio managed to conjure up a hit from his quasi-metaphysical explorations: The stage version of “In & Of Itself” premiered in Los Angeles in 2016 and was set in New York for 560 performances in 2017/18.
Frank Oz directed both the stage version and the film and cleverly captures the unique atmosphere of the project. Cleverly he also uses footage from different performances to show different reactions and results.
The biggest payoff comes at the beginning, when each audience was asked to choose a small white card from hundreds that hang on the theater lobby wall before they sit: “I’m … a translator,” “I’m … an idiot,” I am … a scientist “and so on.
DelGaudio is taking a seemingly meandering path to get back to that original decision – the scene is incredible in the original meaning of the word – and in retrospect you find that he never gives up some key questions: Who am I? What is arbitrary and what is predetermined? What is real and what is made up? The enigmatic artist Marina Abramovic can be seen in the audience, and her interest makes sense.
“In & Of Itself” brings familiar tropes like card tricks, disappearing objects and amazing exploits of mentalism to new purposes. It is not often that when you watch a magic show you think not only about the how, but also the why.
Derek DelGaudio is in and of itself
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch Hulu.