Tuesday, July 15, 2008

If You See Something Say Something -- Reviewed July 12 by David Siegel:

Who knew that traipsing through the past six decades of America's security culture could be so engrossing? An absorbing, impressionistic solo performance is in store for those who care about the grand arc of American security and defense policy over the decades from the clearly quite gifted mind and luminous voice of story-teller Mike Daisey. Daisey presents a left-leaning political analysis with a great deal of Mensa-level background research and theatrical flourish. He is a very three-dimensional character in the mold of the current crop of leftie-seeming cable guys such as Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann. As an audience you will sit in rapt attention even as his one-man monologue borders on a talk-fest. It is rare when someone can entertain when presenting a perspective about difficult, if not frightening, topics. Here it is the building and use of the Atomic Bomb, the later development of the Neutron Bomb, the psychological and security changes brought about after the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks, the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the fact the Congress does not read the text of the bills passed. Really, Congress doesn’t?

He personalizes the events with real people as his props. The production does wander into over long territory, but it remains attention-grabbing as Daisey bobs-and-weaves with the moves of a superior boxer through about twelve historical but out-sequence scenes. This reviewer was left in admiration for a performer who sat down on a wooden chair behind a wooden desk and never moved beyond the electric manner in which he used his upper body to articulate emotions. Daisey’s ability to connect President Washington’s Farewell Address with President Eisenhower’s comments about the military-industrial complex was eye-popping. This is an entertaining one semester graduate school course in American post World War II policy-making condensed into 2 hours by a creative professor who loves his students and wants to enthrall them into learning. At $20 a ticket it’s a lot cheaper than tuition at John Hopkins, Georgetown or George Washington Universities.

How to describe the engaging hard-edged script developed by Daisey? Are the lines the same every night; is it really all in his head or does he do improvisational riffs like a great jazz musician? Even those who have eyes that can be expected to glaze over in boredom at the topics should come to listen to a master story-teller show how to condense, edit and sift away all that could be used into a potent script of frightening issues and provocative analysis all punched up with wonderfully and perfectly pin pointed delivery

2:48 PM