by Sandi Durell
Who is Derek DelGaudio? A magician, an illusionist . . . a storyteller who has mastered the art of unique unpredictability. DelGaudio moves and speaks slowly, at first, causing me to wonder what’s really going on here. I’m waiting for something to happen . . . Patience! DelGaudio’s mesmerizing one-man show, In and Of Itself (playing a limited engagement through June 18) at The Daryl Roth Theatre is simply set with a wall arranged with boxes in which various objects or faces hang, the lighting by Adam Blumenthal subtle and steady. Of course, the clues began in the lobby before I entered the theater: choose a card hung on a wall of hundreds of cards that delineated who someone actually might be or would like to be: “I Am – A Showstopper,” “I Am – A Dog Walker,” “I Am – A Dreamer.” The choices are innumerable, limitless.
But all that comes later. It all begins with a story of Russian Roulette brought to life by the cutout of a man in one of the wall boxes; the “Roulettista“ who weaves an unusual tale about the fragility and apparent randomness of life. Then we’re treated to how a magician manages to get a small paper boat (folded from a bottle label) to actually appear inside that bottle of liquid that is already corked. And it’s done with delicacy, beauty and finesse—shown as a shadow on the wall, as it rocks and moves silently.
On to card tricks that are projected onto the wall as DelGaudio’s expert, nimble fingers move quickly and rhythmically to produce amazing feats of sleight of hand. Remarkable! How does he do it? This is the next level, the extreme level, of sleight of hand.
Interspersed are sad and telling secrets of his own personal life (you’ll have to be there to hear them), from this introspective young man, as themes revolve around who we are, think we are and actually are to ourselves and others. Identity takes on many forms.
Another unique concept is choosing Mr. or Ms.Tomorrow—one audience member who volunteers daily to leave early (so as not to see an actual ending of the show) but comes back the next day with a book they are given in which they write their own ending, and are called upon to read it on stage at the performance.
The actual ending leaves you incredulous. How on earth??!!! . . .
Derek DelGaudio raises esoteric questions that we can choose to ponder and answer . . . or not.
Mr. DelGaudio is a three time Academy of Magical Arts Award winner and considered one the greatest living sleight of hand artists. His show is produced by Neil Patrick Harris et al. and directed by Frank Oz, with original music by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh. The real trick here is going to be getting tickets before they’re gone.
In & of Itself. Through June 18 the Daryl Roth Theatre (101 East 15 Street at Union Square East). Run time: 75 minutes, no intermission. www.inandofitselfshow.com
Photos: Matthew Murphy