‘The Agony and The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs’ by Erica Laxson

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Steve Jobs is a well-known fanboy’s wet dream, but Mike Daisey’s one-man performance of The Agony and The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs enlightens viewers to the soul numbing truth of Jobs’ real legacy. Daisey masterfully weaves a world of the beloved mad genius whose utter disregard for the thousands of lives he’s has a hand in destroying can be easily excused in the name of glorious progress. A ‘must see’ for any Mac fan, computer junkie, or techie wanna-be.

Even the least Apple knowledgeable attendee will be moved, but don’t expect this roller coaster ride of word play and seated slapstick to stay positive for long. Dismal labor conditions, horrific anecdotes, and tales of ruthless management mingle seamlessly with heartfelt stories, humorous nostalgia, and a surprisingly concise history of Jobs’ rise and fall and eventual return to glory.

Mike Daisey in 'The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.' Photo by Stan Barouh.

Not only do we completely buy into Daisey’s narrative, we don’t even question the honesty of the entire evening until Daisey himself points out the possibility of his own potential unfaithfulness to us. At the very least, Daisey’s goal to educate and enlighten can only be helped by the day’s instant access to information. You can be sure you’ll spend the rest of your evening corroborating his anecdotes with New York Times articles and dozens of Google searches.

Director Jean-Michelle Gregory has worked with Daisey to temper his fiery passion into an audience pleasing engagement that clocks in at just under two hours. This is not just a one-man show; this is an in depth look at the type of social activism the average techie can only aspire to wrapped in pithy nerd jokes and several side splitting impersonations of hilarious stereotypes. Daisey is brutal and honest, not always at the same time.

Set and Lighting Designer Seth Reiser uses simplicity and futuristic minimalism to his advantage. The artistically lit set beautifully transitioned Daisey’s acts and flashed in time to the most important points of his narrative.

In those final moments, when everything from Daisey’s non-linear tale has finally been processed, that’s when you have to make a decision. Feign ignorance or do something with your newfound enlightenment? Daisey challenges each and every audience member to be a better person than the man who is worshiped by thousands despite the countless lives he has destroyed.

Don’t be shocked if this live performer, famous for his snark, turns on the audience. 5 stars for a powerful evening bursting with humor and unexpected brutality.

The Agony and The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs plays through August 5, 2012 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company – 641 D Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (202) 393-3939, or purchase them online.

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