DEREK DELGAUDIO, writer of and sole actor in the most moving and original magic show you could ever imagine—IN & OF ITSELF, will hold your attention as you hold your breath. DelGaudio, a two-time winner of the Academy of Magical Arts Award, is not merely a slight-of-hand artist, although you’ll be astonished at his tricks. Most of all, he inspires us to see ourselves beyond the limits of what other people see when they look at us, and even beyond the limits of how we define ourselves.
I first read part of DelGaudio’s self-revelatory monologue in a short story he published in The New Yorker, one that has haunted me since. It’s deeply emotional and could have been built on as the entire show. But DelGaudio’s cleverly shuffles it in along with his deck of cards so that it never becomes sentimental, and yet you never stop feeling the pain of the hero.
DelGaudio is willing to tell you how things work—the lighting that carefully shines down on certain parts of the stage on cue is done, he says, by a woman in a booth whose window faces indoors, a metaphor for how the audience will be looking inward. As he plies his card tricks, he tells us that he learned them from masters. But what we never find out is how he sees inside us. Before you go into the theater, you choose a card that represents you from such choices as Jedi, Trouble Maker, Lawyer, Hobo, Water Protector, et. al. At the end, when DelGaudio walked right up to me, looked me in the eyes and said, “Raconteur,” I was in a celestial shake-up, for that was on the card I had chosen. That is who I am and who I hope to continue to be and DelGaudio’s affirmation will keep me at it.
The stage set is startling, but simple—a darkened brick wall with six cubbyholes. Inside each are elements of the whole story, for example the brick that was thrown through his mother’s window when neighbors found out she was gay. I don’t want to go on reveal every element of this play. But even if it was all spelled out for you, you’d still be in wonderment.
No surprise that IN & OF ITSELF keeps getting extended. The stage hands had to shoo audiences out so that they could begin clean up. I did leave, but part of me is still there.
Frank Oz, four-time Emmy Award winner and winner of numerous other awards, is the director. The original music is by Mark Mothersbaugh. Adam Blumenthal did the artful lighting. The executive producer is Neil Patrick Harris. Other members of the production team include Kevin Heard, Christine Catti, Glenn Kaino.
DARYL ROTH THEATER
101 E 15th St, New York, NY 10003