The Summer That Changed Everything

Mike Daisey and his glass of water in Invincible Summer

Mike Daisey and his glass of water in Invincible Summer

Michael Hogan

“A wise man once said never go to bed angry … stay up and fight,” the advice that Mike Daisey’s father offered on his wedding day. A clash of humor and sincerity, Daisey’s new monologue, “Invincible Summer,” is playing through this month at the Zero Arrow Theater in Harvard Square. Like all of Daisey’s monologues, “Invincible Summer” is a tightly woven tapestry of human emotion. Intricately united historical fact, humorous anecdotes, and personal reflections are what make up Daisey’s solitary masterpieces.

The show follows Daisey from a burned out theater in Seattle to the glaring lights of New York City. Daisey muses on anything and everything from the oppressive heat of the New York summer, which he calls “a malevolent force that wants to fucking hurt people,” to the rocky history and filthy grandeur of the MTA. Rats, Camus, Katz’s Deli and Starbucks all find their way into the journey the audience takes through that monumental summer.

Daisey came to New York City to write a book based on a monologue he had been performing in a tiny Seattle theater before it burned to the ground. The monologue, “21 Dog Years”, was a reflection of his time working for during the dot com boom and bust. As he struggles to write the book, or not write it as it were, the world around him begins to shift and change. Personal and global tragedies fracture the delicate simplicities of Daisey’s life, suddenly shadowing everything in the thick confusion of complexity. Families are shattered, hundreds of people die and rats face down riders in the subway with a bravado seen only in the Big Apple.

This is the story of a magical city, the story of a man getting lost in that city, and the story of a single morning that altered the existence of all of humanity. Daisey’s sense of humor soaks the entire landscape of the show, allowing for the fertile ground out of which magnificent blossoms of raw human emotion sprout and flourish.

Daisey is an actor, a storyteller, a man. He is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and bares his entire soul to a different audience each night. As the story continues through the summer, Daisey’s honesty drips from him like sweat beneath the bright lights of the stage. The audience will laugh, and they just might cry, but in the end they will surely be touched.

“Invincible Summer” plays through April 29 at the Zero Arrow Theater, a second venue for the American Repertory Theater on the edge of Harvard Square. When that is done, his monologue “Monopoly” will run from May 1-5. “Monopoly” is the story of Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison and their battle over electricity. It delves into Bill Gates and Microsoft, the history of the Parker Brothers game Monopoly, Wal-Mart, and small town America. On May 8, Daisey will perform a workshop version of his latest monologue, “Tongues Will Wag,” an exploration of the lives of dogs and humans and how they intertwine. For more information on ART or these performances by Mike Daisey, visit ART’s Web site,