Mike Daisey’s “Monopoly” is a time traveling, novelistic monologue, spanning the stories of Nikolai Tesla, Microsoft, Parker Brothers, and Daisey’s experience trying to put together a show about Tesla in New York. Each story is a scene, and a very entertaining one at that. Mike Daisey comes from the Chris Farley, fists-clenched, red-faced, making-you’re-your-audience-laugh- while-simultaneously-making-them-worry-about-you-having-a-heart-attack school of comedy. But Daisey is much more than that, he’s also incredibly clever and sweet, and all of his characters, heroes and villains alike, are rendered vividly and lovingly, (even when they’re a lie). But these tales, although touching, and hilarious, and without a doubt entertaining, seemed to wander unrelated, save that they shared the universal truth of “corporations are bad, and they will fuck you, so don’t believe the hype.”
The “Here’s a bunch of seemingly unrelated stuff until I tie it together and Blow Your Fucking Mind” is one of my favorite tricks, and near the end of the show, I was excited and anticipating that neat, curtain lifting, invisible lasso magic trick. But it never happened. We are left with Tesla screwed, small towns screwed, the inventor of “The Landlord Game” screwed, MS Word users screwed, and told that it’s up to us to change the situation, and that it’s not too late, despite the desolation of small business in America, the abandoned, ivy covered mausoleum that is Tesla’s wireless power tower, and Windows Vista. And I knew I was being left behind, I could hear the somber pacing, and the serious tone and I thought, wait a minute, seriously? He’s ending this telling a bunch of performance art loving, Mac users in the Pearl not to shop at Walmart? Not to buy Vista? Well, hey, mission accomplished! “Monopoly” is a great show, and Mike Daisey is a talented and charming performer, and I have every intention of enjoying future shows, but if a call to action is what is being trumpeted, then I think we need to talk less about the hands we wouldn’t shake with a 10 foot pole*, and more about the hands that feed us. Still, 8/10.
-by Abe Ingle
* you know, like with a glove at the end