Monologuist Mike Daisey, who in the past has tackled everyone from Nikola Tesla to an Amazon.com employee, this week opened his latest show, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” Playing at the Berkeley Repertory Theater through Feb. 27, the show “totally nails what it is to be an Apple fan,” according to a review at Cult of Mac.
One of the show’s topics is a problem that Apple has taken flak for in the past: working conditions at the Chinese factory that makes its products. Mr. Daisey visited the factory last year and interviewed workers as young as 11 years old who work 16-hour days assembling products by hand.
However, the show is not completely a dour affair, according to reviewer Leander Kahney: “Daisey’s show would be unpalatable if it wasn’t so funny. It’s a roller-coaster ride. He takes the audience up with funny observations about Apple and Steve Jobs, and then delivers some uncomfortable truths about the modern industrial system that is largely invisible to consumers outside Asia.”
In an interview with Cult of Mac’s Nicole Martinelli, Mr. Daisey explained what attendees should expect from the show: “They should expect it to cover the arc of Steve Jobs’ life in the context of Apple, they should expect to talk about industrial design, they should expect it to be about the devices that they already know and love but in the way that few of us think about. It’s a direction that I certainly didn’t think about until I began to investigate the process by which the devices are made, the circumstances they are made in and where they come from.”
Asked about Mr. Jobs’ recently-announced medical leave from Apple, Mr. Daisey responded: “Steve’s announcement kind of punctuates the current situation. The Apple that was – the hobbyist company I associate with The Steves (as in Steve Jobs and Wozniak), the openness of a company that has its heart in the Apple 1 and shipped the circuit diagram along with the actual circuit boards — that company is dead.
“The company that’s here now is a very different beast. It’s built on sleekness, on a kind of brutal industrial design, a beautiful sharp-edged elegance and about controlling the user experience completely. It’s not the same company, although you can love both of them.”
He added: “Tim Cook might be a wonderful person to lead day-to-day operations, he’s certainly done it before, but there’s not going to be a show called, ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy of Tim Cook,’ and there’s a reason for that. It’s because Steve Jobs is a visionary who reshaped the world to his liking and that is a rare, fantastical thing.”