It was with some curiosity approaching skepticism with which I approached going to see The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. I'd previously heard excerpts of the show broadcast and then subsequently retracted from the This American Life podcast after it was revealed that some of the content played fast and loose with the truth. So I was intrigued to see how much the show would have changed after Mike Daisey's subsequent re-write.
It is perhaps unfortunate that I felt inclined to mention the recent This American Life controversy as it shouldn't detract from what is a poignant and thought provoking insight into the shadowy, oft ignored side of our cherished Apple possessions. The show alternates from the story of Steve Jobs rise to prominence within Apple, exploring his eccentric genius to the story of Daisey's recent trip to Foxconn plant in China where an astonishing 50% of the world's electronics are made.
Such is the impression this one man monologue made upon up me, that I left Waterloo East Theatre staring at my iPhone with a new found suspicion and more than a hint of guilt. It could be easy for this show could turn into an hour long sermon about the horrors of Foxconn we choose to ignore (nets placed around the factory to catch suicidal jumpers is a particularly horrific actuality) but what we have is a lot more effective. Edward Fromson, who performs Daisey's monologue, excels in changing the tone and pace of the show so it doesn't feel too heavy or overwhelming.
Perhaps the most salient and heart wrenching point raised is that on some level we're all aware that these products aren't made in ideal conditions but we chose to ignore the realities and to live in ignorance. The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is an important show to watch for anyone with an Apple product which I'm guessing is the vast majority of you.