With genius and popularity there always seems to be negativity and usually arrogance. No one embodies this more than Steve Jobs. He has been the star of much praise and ridicule, for no one has changed the world while being such a bully more than Jobs. So it should not really come as a surprise that Jobs and the practices of his legacy, Apple, is now being performed as a one man show which is currently appearing in Hollywood at the Theatre Asylum. “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” was actually created by Mike Daisey in New York over a year ago. Daisey is an avid technology geek and therefore a huge Apple fan. However his view of Apple was changed when he visited Foxconn in Shenzhen where pretty much everything we Americans buy is made.
Daisey created a monologue that combines the rise of Apple and a brief bio of its mastermind with the horrors that is Foxconn and how they are able to mass produce 50% of the worlds electronics including many Apple products.
Daisey was highly criticized for his performance of his monologue in New York because of some embellishments that he added to his story. Now, the monologue has been tweaked and has been published online for public use. Alex Lyras has taken this piece and decided to perform it as his own in a one man show platform.
After experiencing this bio/rant being performed by Lyras acting as Daisey, I can say that it is not very effective. It feels more like a presentation at a conference, yet in reality it is an acting piece. Lyras doesn’t help the impact of his performance any with the various missed slideshow cues and awkward spotlight changes. As a simple, but long winded one man show there should be a little more rehearsal, for if you are going to be in someone’s face telling them that what they spend most of their life doing is supporting sweat shops and suicides, then you better be very precise.
Overall this is not really a night of theater. It is a night of soap-boxing, and a poor one at that. I will say that it did make me think and the slide show format is powerful. Using pictures of the workers who make the iPhones and MacBooks by hand and the story of the Foxconn employee suicide rate, did make me stop and ponder about what else is happening around the world. Because of this, I do think Daisey’s words should be heard, however I think they might be more suited to a book than a night of theater. But then again, I am typing this on my iPad mini and editing it on my iMac, so perhaps I am the wrong person to ask.
“The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” plays Wednesday nights at Theatre Asylum until April 20th.