Review: In & of Itself
What is In & of Itself? Well, in the literal sense, it’s the latest film from director and occasional Muppeteer Frank Oz. Before that, it was a one-man show written and performed by Derek DelGaudio. And what exactly is Derek DelGaudio? No, that isn’t a typo; I’m not asking who he is, but rather how he should be defined. Is he a magician? A storyteller? A philosopher? A self-help guru? All of the above? None of the above?
These questions aren't merely rhetorical; through his monologues, illusions, and conversations with the audience, DelGaudio explores such fundamental, universal themes as identity, perception, socialization, and self-worth. Like Ricky Jay, his sleight-of-hand tricks are elegantly structured, beginning with deceptive simplicity before gradually escalating to a spectacular conclusion; unlike Jay, who utilizes “patter” primarily to misdirect the viewer’s attention, DelGaudio emphasizes the substance of his speeches—his words always take top priority, with the playing cards, animatronic puppets, and other assorted props serving as visual aids.
This defiance of convention makes In & of Itself nearly indescribable—and that is absolutely intentional. It’s a recording of a play, an experimental magic show, a celebration of the irreplaceable communal experience of live theater, and so, so much more. It is, in short, just as complex, ambiguous, and multifaceted as any individual human being.