Regional Reviews: Seattle
21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com
The gonzo edginess and immediacy that one encountered seeing 21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com in its original run at the now defunct Speakeasy in Belltown in 2001 may be gone, but Mike Daisey's one-man expose of rise and fall of the dot.coms is as engaging and provocative as ever.
In a nutshell, Daisey's tale is that of being led to work for Amazon because he needed dental benefits, his admittedly unmerited rise from Customer Service flunky to the seemingly prestigious heights of business development rep, and his ultimate disillusionment with the company after unearthing the truth about just where he actually was on the food chain.
Daisey (who has taken this show from its humble beginnings to a solid Off Broadway run and touring engagements) is a born storyteller, and his story is one that many who were caught up in that "one brief, shining moment" that was the dot.com boom, will identify with (and hopefully be able to chuckle at as well as those of us who just watched from a comfortable distance). The show, meticulously directed by Jean-Michelle Daisey (Mike's wife), has moved from a more improvisational quality to a more structured one, and has lost some "local" references (and explained others) that would have mystified non-Seattle audiences, all of this to the good. It also has a bit more darkness underneath the giggles, which feels right.
Daisey is more polished and a bit less frenetic this go 'round, but just as engaging as ever. His adoring letters to Amazon top-dog Jeff Bezos are still unnervingly funny, and his description of his post-Amazon meltdown, sitting home at the tube watching Jerry Springer and the like, is poignant as well as amusing.
Not that a lot of technical wizardry is required to frame this type of show, but kudos are still in order to Edie Whitsett for a set design which suggests the sterile office environment while keeping the large Intiman space from overwhelming Daisey's intimate performance, and to Greg Sullivan for his deft lighting design.
Intiman has delivered a mighty impressive slate of shows this season and should be congratulated for giving this homegrown show a chance to reach a broader local audience.
21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com runs through November 22 at Intiman Theatre, 201 Mercer at Seattle Center. For further information visit Intiman on-line at www.intiman.org.- David-Edward Hughes