Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Daisey responds to questions of his veracity with a clever bit of wording in the program: "This is a true story, and like every story being told in every medium, all stories are fiction." The current performance covers his visit to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, accompanied by his wife and director, Jean-Michele Gregory; their trip to Walt Disney World with Disney-worshipping relatives; and his view (from across the river) of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City's Zuccotti Parkthree intentionally created communities.
Daisey sculpts and paints with his words, so when he talks about the drive from Oregon to the Burning Man site, he tells of how he felt "a hacky sack of anxiety grow into a bowling ball of existential dread" during the trip, and depicts the self-contained world of the art and music festival as a cross between the apocalyptic paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and the homemade elegance of Martha Stewart.
His withering comments about the cult of Mickey Mouse are even more pointed and hilarious. Daisey describes the flight to Orlando on a Disney-affiliated airline, followed by a ride to the park on a Disney bus equipped with promotional videos that encourage visitors who haven't yet arrived to make their reservations for a return trip. Everyone and everything is on message within the confines of Walt Disney World, he notes, and every guest will have an enjoyable visiteven if that means spending time at Epcot tasting "sodas of the world."
In contrast, Daisey's comments about Occupy Wall Street are not as immediate and they don't have as much of an impact. Rather than go to the park himself, he attended a conference in Brooklyn on the ramifications of the movement and engaged only with people like himself.
To sum up, time spent with Mike Daisey is never wasted. His perceptions are never less than interesting and audiences never know in advance where he's going to lead them.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company