‘THE LAST CARGO CULT’ at Berkeley Rep

I was going to wait to talk about both of Mike Daisey’s plays at the same time: The Last Cargo Cult and The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs are running in tandem at Berkeley Rep, and I’ve only seen one so far.

But I realized at San Francisco Theater Pub that I’ve been recommending this one for about a week, and in fact bored Marissa with such astute comments as “it’s great,” “it’s really great,” and “did I mention it’s great?”

Why save critical insight like that for a pub, when I have a forum such as this? (And new readers! Welcome! The photo you were looking for with your “hot heather gordon” google search is here.)

Okay, so, Cargo Cult: you walk into the show, and the ushers say that it’s two hours long with no intermission and you think “damn, how’s he gonna pull that off?” (You are me, in this scenario.) And then you’re riveted the entire time.

You laugh, you think, you get pissed off, you sit back and admire the structure of the piece and how it loops back upon itself and how moments echo off each other to create something extraordinary.

You realize that all the talk on the theater blogs about “what is theater” and “can a guy sitting at a table be theater or is it stand-up or storytelling” has been a waste of time because this is clearly a piece of theater, and a masterful one to boot. Then you go out in the lobby and talk about the show with Paul Cello. (Here I’m assuming you are still me.)

The way the plot unfolds is ingenious, but rather than try to summarize it, I will direct you to some reviews that not only sum up the story but also agree with me that the show rocks:

No other monologist rants as captivatingly as Daisey, or copes so incisively with the transgressive topic of money. –SF Chronicle


I felt like I really got to see Mike Daisey. His story has to do, among many other things, with a live volcano, and that’s what he’s like on stage. He erupts in ways that are frightening and so dazzling you just can’t turn away. –Theater Dogs

I should also point you to this review in the East Bay Express, which Mike Daisey himself called out on Facebook as the “most perceptive, best written review of THE LAST CARGO CULT in the Bay Area.”

I’d pull out a quote, but you should really read the whole thing. Hopefully after you check out the show. Which you should. Because did I mention it’s great? I think I might have.

(Disclosure: I was comp’d to this show.)

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