Derek Delgaudio’s In & Of Itself [Hulu, 2021]

How do you talk about something, and encourage people to watch something that’s almost impossible to talk about? That’s the conundrum I face in trying to decide how much to divulge about In & Of Itself.

Derek Delgaudio is an esteemed magician, but this is no mere magic show—make no mistake, Mister Delgaudio performs a couple of cool illusions, some incredible sleight of hand, and two feats of…let’s call it mentalism, that may very well leave you as they left the audiences at his live show: speechless, mouth hanging open, possible shaking with emotion and/or tears streaming down your face. This is not hyperbole. Some might be immune to what happens over the course of the show, but most will be moved beyond words.

Derek performed this one man show over 550 times over the course of a couple years from 2016 to 2018, starting with a couple of runs in Los Angeles before taking the show to a small off-Broadway theater in New York. The film (directed, as was the stage show, by Frank Oz (Yoda!)) splices scenes from several different performances, which I imagine is partially done to help quell skeptics who might think he uses a plant when he calls for a volunteer from the audience.

So, what is In & Of Itself actually about? Hoo boy. When it comes down to it, the prevailing theme is identity—how we see ourselves, how others see us, and how we often let how others see us influence how we see ourselves. Make sense? Delgaudio begins by telling a story about a man named “The Rouletista”, who would play Russian roulette for money and defied death numerous times, even after placing additional bullets inside the gun he placed to his head. A stranger told him that Delgaudio was The Rouletista, and Delgaudio carries that theme through the show. On a wall behind him on stage are six “chambers” that illuminate as the show proceeds.

To say anymore would be risking saying too much. This is one of those cases where it’s better to just go in blind. As for me personally, I don’t tend to get very emotional from things like TV shows or movies. I actually enjoy the challenge—I enjoy very morbid, sad things, and dare them to make me feel something. I didn’t shake with emotion of openly sob watching In & Of Itself, but I did get a little choked up, and at one point a tear did roll down my cheek. And if it can do that to me, I expect most people will take it much harder. That may sound like a reason not to watch, but it’s not actually sad. It’s more affirming, if that makes sense. All I can tell you for sure is this: No matter what think, no matter what you feel when it’s over, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Published by Kenneth Jobe

Kenneth Jobe is a writer, photographer, musician, and Native Californian living in the Midwest with his wife and son. His fiction has been published in Jitter, The Rusty Nail, Ghostlight: The Magazine of Terror, and the horror anthology Robbed of Sleep, Volume 2. His debut novel, The End of Jimmy Ray Day, is being published by Literary Wanderlust, coming late 2021.

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