The Column Online



by Mike Daisey

Amphibian Stage Productions

Director - Jaime Castaneda
Scenic Design - Judd Vermillion
Lighting Design - Aaron Lentz
Props Manager - Cosmo Jones

CAST: Steven Young

Photos by Daylon Walton

Reviewed Performance: 4/27/2013

Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

If you've heard of Foxconn, the massive factory in China that produces most of the world's electronics, it's most likely because of writer Mike Daisey and The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. The monologue quickly gained public attention when an excerpt from it was used by NPR's This American Life. The episode was quickly retracted, however, when it was discovered that Daisey, "had fabricated or exaggerated some key details of his reporting."

But, after some revising of the script, Daisy re-released the monologue without the controversial pieces. This revised version is now being performed by Steven Young at Amphibian Stage Productions.

The story of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs bounces back and forth between one fanboy's idolization of the eponymous figure and his visitation to the dark under-belly of the tech world. We get a brief summary of Steve Jobs' rise to power, an illustration of the control he dreamed of exerting on the consumers of his products, and an account of the miserable life endured by employees of Foxconn in Shenzhen, China as witnessed by the writer.

Steven Young is more than capable as a performer of holding an audience's attention for ninety solid minutes. No intermission disrupts his flow nor allows him a break. For much of this production he's not even afforded the support of a multi-media presentation to illustrate some of the points Daisey makes in his writing. It would be nice to see the pictures accidentally left on the iPhone from the factory he describes. However, Young is delightful at bringing to life the character of a man who loves technology and the geniuses who give it to us but is conflicted by the means we are provided that technology. Young's performance is confident, clear, and clever.

Technically, the production of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is very stark and simple. Inspired by many of Steve Jobs' "Stevenotes," a single table sits upstage and a video projection rests on the upstage wall. Unlike the keynotes, a chair is provided for the performer. Also, a light grid pattern has been plotted out on the floor, subconsciously inspiring computer-like imagery in the minds of the audience.

The lighting shifts softly and easily from performance to a low-light level as we see momentary titles, such as chapters of a book, projected behind the performance area between scenes. However, beyond that, there isn't much to say about it. The lights are either bright or dim with no variation in color, mood, or theme throughout the show.

With the limited technical aspects, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is like watching an audio book being recorded before you. Still, if you're a technophile who worships at the altar of Jobs, it is an interesting piece worth checking out.

Amphibian Stage Productions
120 S. Main St.
Ft. Worth, TX 76104

Runs through May 12th

Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm

Tickets are $30.00, $25.00 seniors, and $15.00 students.
Seating is General Admission. For tix & info go to: or call their box office at 817-923-3012