THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS (AND THE REPUDIATION AND REDEMPTION OF MIKE DAISEY) by Mike Daisey, curated by Mitchell Cushman and David Ferry, at various secret locations. To May 13. $20-$25. 416-504-7529. See Listing. Rating: NNNN
Turning crisis into opportunity, up-and-coming director Mitchell Cushman and veteran actor/director David Ferry have transformed Mike Daisey's contentious monologue about deplorable working conditions in high-tech manufacturing into a candid reassessment of standards in theatre, art and journalism.
Back in March, Daisey was subjected to a public shaming by journalists who uncovered a few factual inaccuracies (he fudged some facts that don't affect the substance of his argument) in the show.
The original monologue (delivered here by Ferry) pairs a dramatic retelling of Steve Jobs's rise from scofflaw computer pirate to corporate design guru with Daisey's account of his visit to Apple contractor Foxconn's massive manufacturing plant in China, which has been criticized for inhumane working conditions.
To incorporate the media hubbub over Daisey's embellishments into the show, Ferry pops out of the monologue at certain points where inaccuracies were found, and reads comments drawn from the U.S. media, members of the Toronto theatre scene and Daisey himself.
Embellishments aside, this coming-to-consciousness narrative about learning where our gadgets come from is instantly riveting and continually thought-provoking. Ferry's delivery is a pleasure to listen to; he nails the hilarious, over-the-top moments in Daisey's colourful prose (and does an awesome Steve Jobs impression), but also conveys sincere outrage at the deeply disturbing revelations about workers who are treated like disposable automatons.
A century ago, Upton Sinclair changed the meat-packing industry with an eye-opening work of fiction. This show is nothing short of The Jungle for the dot-com generation. The reflexive frame added by Cushman and Ferry is a stroke of genius that both rehabilitates and widens the scope of this important work.