Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu:

The Pitch: Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself is a new kind of lyric poem. It tells the story of a man fighting to see through the illusion of his own identity, only to discover that identity itself is an illusion. An intimate and powerful exploration of what it means to be and be seen, the film chronicles Derek DelGaudio’s attempt to answer one deceptively simple question, “Who am I?” His personal journey expands to a collective experience that forces us to confront the boundaries of our own identities.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: The simplest way to describe Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself is to call it a one-man show that acts as both a performative mini-biography of the titular artist and magician and an impressive magic show. But believe me when I tell you that this isn’t merely an entertaining spectacle full of trickery that you’ve seen from the likes of David Blaine, David Copperfield, or Penn & Teller. Instead, Derek DelGaudio delivers an intimate, emotional experience that will have your mind blown and eyes watering. In and Of Itself is so much more than a magic show, and it’s easily one of the most soul-stirring experiences I’ve had in a long time.

Let me begin by saying that the best way to experience Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself is by knowing as little as possible. There’s also a reason that the recorded production, directed by Frank Oz, literally asks you to put your phone down. This is something that requires your full attention. That’s not to say that other movies and TV shows are less deserving of the same respect, but this is especially a show that you want to keep your eyes and ears glued to without interruption in order to get the full effect.

I don’t want to jump into a breakdown of the “tricks” that DelGaudio does in this show, because they won’t paint a proper picture of the magic that was performed 552 times on stage in front of live audiences in Los Angeles and New York City. After all, the tricks are merely the backdrop of a much more purposeful production that finds DelGaudio telling deeply personal stories, from discovering that his mother was gay when he was just six years old to the years he spent as a ruthless card shark. There’s also metaphor to be found as he talks about a man called “the Roulettista” who survived many rounds of Russian roulette in front of a crowd betting on his life. In another part of the show, he relates a time in his life to the time when the sun is at such a low angle that it’s difficult to distinguish a wolf from a dog.

Yes, there are some card tricks, sleight of hand, and objects that seemingly disappear. But the real magic DelGaudio brings is in his intimate connection to both the live audience and everyone watching at home, making them feel something profound as he explores the importance of perception and identity in our lives. Again, the way DelGaudio pulls this off is something you must experience for yourself to truly understand, and I can’t implore you enough to put your phone down and head over to Hulu to watch it now.

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