Derek Delgaudio’s In & Of Itself Review

It’s a simple stage in New York City. One man, Derek Delgaudio is at the forefront. Behind him are six windows, all of them with a distinct visual and prop in them. And it is here Delgaudio woos his audience. Part of it is magic tricks, but another part is through his own life story. One filled with frustration and sadness, as he struggles to understand his life and who he is. What the audiences don’t know is that Delgaudio’s show, In & Of Itself, isn’t just about this man’s story. Rather, it’s about their story. Their struggles with identity and their understanding of themselves. Who they are as people. The people who surround them and give them a reason to keep going. The values of storytelling and continuing other’s stories, despite not being there to see it.

Directed by Frank Oz, In & Of Itself asks a lot of questions to the viewers. Both the ones in the audience itself, and the ones watching it on Hulu. And through Derek Delgaudio’s masterful storytelling and emotional sequences, In & Of Itself answers these questions with grace and emotional depth. And through In & Of Itself, the viewers are enriched and learn more about themselves in return. It’s an idea done before in film, but few have captured it like this has.

Image from "In & Of Itself". Courtesy of Netflix
Courtesy of Hulu

The Hocus Pocus of It All

Derek Delgaudio’s film is all about identity, and how we use it to define ourselves, yet also put yourself in a box all at once. As such, In & Of Itself is a film that tackles a lot of genres, ideas and subject matters. Of course, going in, some are expecting tricks and illusions. Delgaudio is a magician after all.

And when it comes to magic, there’s plenty of great moments here. Each trick is more complex than the last, whether it be card tricks or creating letters for the audience. And each one is astonishing to watch. There’s an incredible sense of jaw-dropping effect here, as it’s hard to really understand how these tasks are done.

And at the same time, each trick ties into the film’s themes of identity. Watching Delgaudio perform all these tricks allow us to think about who we are as humans, bringing up several of Delgaudio’s stories and connecting them to our own. As much fun as it can be to wonder how Delgaudio does what he does, it’s even more impressive to see how it all comes together thematically.

The People Around You

Derek Delgaudio uses his platform to put out one simple message: you matter. Whether it be through telling his life story, encouraging his viewers to create their own endings and stories, creating letters for his audience, Derek Delgaudio creates a story that uplifts and inspires.

The crux of this show is how you define yourself. That’s apparent in the very beginning, as people pick from a giant wall of “I am” statements. And it builds from there. Delgaudio describes his childhood and how it set him on his path. He allows a chance for his audience to think about the people who helped them become the people they are. And in an emotional climax, he gives the audience reaffirmation about who they are.

Identity is something we all struggle with. And through Delgaudio’s unique pacing, staging, and set pieces, In & Of Itself crafts itself as a beautiful story that serves as a comforting piece and a stellar showcase of magic.

To Sum Up…

In & Of Itself is marvelous stuff. Frank Oz brings life to the stage show through ingenious set pieces and little flourishes. But it is Derek Delgaudio’s visionary storytelling and emotional core that helps pull it all together. Emotional, heartfelt, yet still otherworldly, In & Of Itself is a magic show unlike anything else.

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