“I’m Mike, and I like my shit.”
These are the first words out of the mouth of Steve Isaac, who portrays Apple visionary Steve Jobs and Apple consumer Mike (Daisey, presumably) in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: The Musical. That “shit” refers to his electronics. The line does a good job of summing up the entirety of the musical adaptation of Mike Daisey’s monologue.
If you find that line funny, this is for you. If you don’t, skip it.
Here’s the thing: Steve Jobs wasn’t the best guy in the world. This profanity-laden musical makes that extremely clear. But what Isaac can’t quite pull off is that Jobs was a charismatic guy. Like, incredibly charismatic. People liked him. A lot. Maybe not in the board room, but the public went nuts for him. Isaac doesn’t have the same pull: his singing leaves much to be desired, and his plow-forward approach to acting isn’t winning the audience over.
While his approach is heavy-handed, Gillian Jackson Han and Emily Kester, who play in the chorus, are sweet and funny in turns. Jackson Han especially shines, which is impressive, given that she’s a junior in high school.
The musical takes the stance that we, American consumers, don’t care about the production of our electronics as much as we should. That being said, Isaac himself doesn’t make his Mike Daisey seem sympathetic when he reports the infamous FoxConn suicides. Rather, he seems almost pleased.
The Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs: The Musical
by Timothy Guillot
at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church – Mountain
900 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
It’s unclear if this is because he had trouble switching between his two characters — who are, unknowingly to one party, completely at odds — or if there was some other reason. But one would probably benefit from not coming off as smug when reporting the actual suicides of factory workers. Just a thought.
The story is really two intertwined stories: the history of Apple and the fictional account of “Mike” going to China to see where his “shit” is produced. It’s heavy-handed to say the least (one indictment of Jobs has him singing that everyone is a “Bozo or a Genius”) and when a good joke is struck (Mike sings he can do what he wants because he’s an “American in a Hawaiian fucking shirt”), we have to hear the punch line 6 times over.
The intertwining leaves both stories feeling abridged. Granted, the sound was off the night we saw the play. Given that it was opening night, this can easily be fixed in the future, but generally the audience either didn’t hear a player or had to cover their ears to prevent ear canal damage.
The unevenness of the show was saved by Jackson Han and Kester, mostly, who produced the most laughs and touching moments throughout. Jackson Han single-handedly earned the production an extra star.
If it weren’t for Isaac, this might have ended up being an interesting production. Then again, perhaps his Jobs was spot-on: it overshined everything else via force of character but still left a bitter taste in our mouths.
Still, your $17 is probably better spent going toward a new iPod.
Did you just give a note to yourself? I’m confused. I would love to see DCTS invest in writers that 1) Can write grammatically correct, well thought out reviews (after reading other reviews, there are a lot of typos and grammatical errors). I would also like to see reviewers who do some research before commenting on productions. It was clear that Mr. Andrews did not. As a reviewer you are either writing for potential audience members or so the artists can see how their work is being received. This review does neither of those things in a professional manner. This makes outlandish comments at best. I’m not sure if this is because the reviewer believes the snarkiness reads as professional, but it actual does the opposite. The word around town (and based on the 9/actually 15+ comments posted here) suggest that this review is way off the mark. I think we as DC artists and theatre goers would appreciate a source we can reply on and not people looking to boost their own egos at someone else’s expense.
This is why people love you. Can’t wait to see you at the show!
Lorraine Treanor says
Yes, Amitabh, it was. This site encourages an exchange of ideas about anything we post. We do not allow slanderous attacks on our writers or anyone writing into this site.
Bob Bartlett says
and I should have closed with a smiley face
Bob Bartlett says
well, this musical was already on my VERY short list of Fringe plays to see – but a “2”? I’ve seen people shit on Fringe stages and get a “4” – oh, yeah – profanity on stage doesn’t scare me – and I already have a fucking iPod
A previous comment by me about this review (and at least two other comments) was deleted and I wasn’t informed. I’ll admit that my comment wasn’t the most insightful thing ever written, but it was a relevant comment on the posted review. It was also not threatening or vulgar. So, what gives?
Stop deleting comments.
[Note to Bill: we will stop deleting the comments you have been sending under various names when you stop attacking our writer.]
Ed Kelty says
Did not see the show, but have a comment about Mike Daisey’s “expose.” We were in China at the time of the FoxComm suicides. There were two things that were not noted in Daisey’s critique. FoxComm is a Taiwanese company which The People’s Republic of China was trying to put-down. The other is that the suicide rate at the FoxComm factories was lower than the suicide rate in China.
I have to agree with Schuyler. Do you think it impresses readers when you say that a single person’s performance (however good it may have been) granted the production another “star” from some website? What does putting that in this review possibly do? This review is bad, and you should feel bad.
I find it interesting that the website deleted a comment that argued with the review. I just lost respect for this website. If it is open for comments but deletes those that disagree and or challenges the integrity of a bad review(er), whats the point of open comments? Is it just to pat the reviewer on the back? The comment above points out the same issues the deleted comment raised with slightly less directness. I also want to add on to the comment above and mention that the Washington Post (Peter Marks) gave the script and production a very positive review. As Ryan ended his comment with. Go see the show!
I think Mr. Andrews may have had his mind on something other than Steve Jobs if he’s giving a production and additional star for a single performer…Not to criticize her performance–I’ve not seen the show but I’m sure she’s wonderful–but spending as much time focusing on one (occasionally two) actors as he does talking about the content of the show makes me call his judgement into question.
Everyone I talked to really enjoyed it, as did DC MetroTheatreArts, so, I’d say give it chance. I know I’m going to be.