The Agony And Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs


REVIEW by Willard Manus

THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS Alex Lyras' THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS is a 21st century J' Accuse, a scathing attack on the immoral and inhuman practices of global capitalism. Lyras' specific target is Apple Inc. , the second richest corporation in the world, thanks to the success of its computers, iPads and iPhones. Despite being awash in black ink, the company still makes most of its products in Shenzen, China, an industrial city--a prison camp, really--where 350,000 workers toil twelve hours a day, seven days a week, for miniscule wages.

Not only are the hours long, the pay short, but the conditions are right out of a totalitarian fantasy: no speaking on the job, no leaving your seat without permission. The workers live in adjoining dormitories, sleep in cubicles, and are watched and regimented by Big Brother (the Communist Party) 24/7. Is it any wonder that the suicide rate in Shenzen is just about the highest in the world?

These shocking truths form the basis of Lyras' 70-minute monologue, which been adapted from Mike Daisy's 2012 controversial solo show at New York's Public Theatre. Daisey had to withdraw some of his charges against Apple when the company disputed some of his facts. He subsequently rewrote his monologue and released the new version online, offering it free to anyone willing to perform it.

Lyras, an actor/writer with extensive theatre and television credits, has made his own changes to Daisey's text. "I've made some cuts, so as not to slam the audience over the head with the message too many times," he said in a recent interview in LA Stage Times. "And I've added a slew of projections that help bring the piece to life visually."

The result is an edifying and engrossing show that investigates three different themes: the history of the late Steve Jobs ("a genius and a tyrant") and Apple Inc.; a visit to Shezwen; and an overview of technology in our time. Lyras weaves these three strands together in crisply skilful fashion, turning what could have been a dry lecture into a funny, rousing and powerful call to arms.

Apple Inc., like so many other multinational companies, has outsourced its jobs to countries that callously underpay and exploit its own citizens, all in the name of mythical free trade. The question Lyras' monologue asks is this: what are we going to do about this disgusting situation?

(Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Every Wednesday night through April 10. Call 800-838-3006 or visit