In & Of Itself – An Amazing One Man Show in NYC, Is It Magic or Something More?

The intriguing thing about entertainment is that the bar is generally being raised, across the board. By now everyone concurs we are in the golden (or platinum) age of television. Films continue to push the edge of the envelope, although one man’s schlock remains another man’s art in the movie theatre. More people are listening to more music than ever before, which invariably means there is more available on both ends of the good / bad spectrum.

But when it comes to magic, I am astounded that I keep getting astounded.

Derek DelGaudio stars in his one man show “In & Of Itself.” I have become an aficionado of one man magic shows, having seen Ricky Jay numerous times (improbably being selected twice to sit next to him on stage, where his sleight of hand is even more jaw dropping). Even when I sat in the front row at one of David Copperfield’s productions in Las Vegas, I was able to somehow intellectually accept that the disappearing motorcycle a few feet away had a logical explanation.

But the last 15 minutes of Derek DelGaudio’s 75 minute show at the Daryl Roth Theatre near Union Square in NYC were unlike anything I have seen performed before.

As such, I really don’t want to describe too much of what happened. As with the best theatre, the resolution of “In & Of Itself” builds successfully on what came before. DelGaudio sets up a series of vignettes, each anchored by his steady, deliberate pacing. It is decidedly not the rapid fire pacing adopted by most magicians. Some have used Spalding Gray as a touchpoint for the monologue DelGaudio delivers. It is similar in the apparent insight into the speaker’s psyche, but Gray would wind up both you and him in his performances. And when Gray moved his hands, cards did not appear in impossibly perfect order.

Derek DelGaudio in IN & OF ITSELF (photo by Matthew Murphy)

DelGaudio’s involvement with the audience occurs steadily throughout the production, and one particular sequence invites a second visit (which I can almost guarantee happens for one person in each audience).

Neil Patrick Harris, Derek DelGaudio and Frank Oz (photo by Glenn Kaino)

The stage direction by Frank (Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Star Wars) Oz is minimilist, which perfectly heightens the mystery underneath each sequence. The music by Mark Mothersbaugh melds perfectly with DelGaudio’sstage patter; the former’s salad days with Devo unlikely portended the brilliant soundscapes he has created over the decades. Producer Neil Patrick Harris continues to nurture shows like this, with aplomb.

“In & Of Itself” is one of those productions that will sit with you for months. I expect over the years my mind will wander back to the spring evening in NYC when strange, magical and wonderful things occurred on a small stage.

 


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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