Monday, January 21, 2008

'Monopoly!' rips into capitalism:

Daisey and Gregory moved to New York, where they have turned out a half-dozen monologues, all with Daisey's signature knack for personal revelation combined with socioeconomic insight. In that regard Daisey continues the legacy of the late genius raconteur Spalding Gray.

His latest creation, "Monopoly!," has the standard Daisey drollness. Everyone in the theater is grinning and laughing with one exception: him. Daisey covers the gamut from whispers to roars, from outrage to astonishment. But jolly he is not. He is your classic serious comedian.

The invention, about 70 years ago, of the unprecedentedly popular board game Monopoly serves as a paradigm for chicanery and deception. Apparently a manufacturer's myth, still to be found in Monopoly packages, neglects to mention that the person who got rich off the game had stolen the idea from a guileless idealist.

In contrast to the rampant capitalism stories, Daisey offers a counterparadigm of pluck and imagination. His hero, the guileless and idealistic inventor Nikola Tesla, improved on Edison's hazardous direct current with the now universally accepted alternating current. He went on to devise a generator that would distribute electricity into the air, free for the taking. Free for the taking?! No meters? No billing? As you can imagine, that did not go over well at all with Tesla's backer, J.P. Morgan.

Fragments of modern economic history and business lore intertwine with personal recollections. The hardship of living without a television in a Seattle house with crackheads and a heroin addict is alleviated by a trip to Wal-Mart with it universe of cheap TVs. The inspiration of working with visionary New York theater artists is frustrated when the vision includes a Tesla coil -- a potentially dangerous device that throws off synthetic lightning.

12:20 PM