"Mike Daisey's The Last Cargo Cult": Theater Review

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Through Feb. 27 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. $29-$73; 510-647-2949 or www.berkeleyrep.org.

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Let me be audacious. Theater is about storytelling, and Mike Daisey is the best storyteller out there. He has a simple style, similar to Spalding Gray's monologues, of sitting at a wooden desk, with a glass of water and some notes he occasionally refers to. He doesn't stutter, search "naturally" for lines, or ever say "umm"; he is intense, has a barely contained madness behind his eyes, and hardly pauses for two thrilling hours. The subject of this monologue is money, the "liquid that bonds us together and corrodes all our relationships" and yet lets us obsessively buy "awesome shit." While weaving a fascinating, Indiana Jones–style tale of traveling to the South Pacific to an "island just beyond the reach of money," Daisey confronts us, as well as himself, with funny and painful anecdotes of our devotion to the religion of the dollar, educates us about the recent financial crash, and celebrates our obsession with "wanting." It's clear all along that Daisey is a masterful artist, unafraid to be unsympathetic, and to be the perpetrator and as well as the victim in his stories. This is a must-see theatrical experience.

 
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