Pass Go. Collect $200. Do It.

Pass Go. Collect $200. Do It.

Michael Hogan

There was this board game I played once. You may have heard of it before. It was a little game called Monopoly. Yeah, you know the one. There is a little metal dog and an iron. There is a top hat, too. Some hotels, some houses, a lot of passing “Go” and collecting $200, it’s a whole world of capitalism rolled up in a cardboard box. Anyway, you know that game. Well, what does that game have to do with Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison? Not much, really. Just that they are all parts of Mike Daisey’s new monologue, “Monopoly.”

Daisey is a master of weaving stories together into something special, something at the same time both humorous and poignant. Like most of Daisey’s monologues, “Monopoly” covers a lot of ground, bouncing from the battle over electricity between Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison to the mistaken history behind the famous Parker Brothers board game for which the show is named. Who knew that the story printed on the inside of the Monopoly box was a lie? I sure didn’t. Mike Daisey knows. He will tell you. And, what about Edison and Tesla? What about that battle over electricity? Well, it had something to do with the difference between AC and DC. Apparently, Thomas Edison could be a bit of an ass. At least, the Thomas Edison described in Daisey’s monologue was a bit of an ass.

You’ll learn all about Wal-Mart and how it can take over a small town in Maine, the way that convenience and low prices can change the landscape of an entire area. Bill Gates can’t act. This, too, is the kind of privileged information that Daisey will let you in on. There are rabbits with lasers on their heads meant to represent various world leaders. Churchhill, FDR, Mussolini, they are all there, puffy tails, long ears and all. An enigmatic individual named Alex, whom Daisey describes as a “cross between Jesus and Ashton Kutcher,” finds his way into the show.

Daisey muses about his time portraying the “Fat Geek” in an instructional video for Microsoft. He rants and raves about his problems, which are pretty much everyone’s problems, when it comes to using Microsoft Word to type. As a matter of fact, while writing this very article I am running into many of the same annoyances he addresses in his diatribe, those annoying green and red squiggles that show up at the bottom of grammar and spelling “mistakes,” the wizards that tend to pop up at the most inopportune moments, we all know them. Well, Daisey has a solution to all of that, a simple ingenious solution. No, I am not going to tell you what that solution is. I am not going to ruin everything for you. Go and see the show, find out for yourself.

Daisey is a wonder to watch, a man with a firm grasp of both what can make us laugh and what can make us cry. “Monopoly” was at the American Repertory Theater’s Zero Arrow Theater in Harvard Square through the May 5. On May 8 he will present a one night only performance of his newest monologue “Tongues Will Wag,” a exploration of the lives of dogs and the people who own them. I guess if I could tell you anything at all about Mike Daisey and what he does night in and night out is that you have to see him for yourself. Go and check him out any chance you get. You’ll love it, I promise.