Theatre review: The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs; Gilded Ballon Teviot

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THE late Apple CEO Steve Jobs was so committed to beautiful industrial design he ordered that even internal, hidden circuitry had to be aesthetically pleasing.

Apple products now have an almost religious following, yet The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs reveals an unseen component in their construction that is very ugly indeed.

Written by Mike Daisey and performed by Grant O’Rourke, this monologue parallels the rise of Apple with an investigation into the factories employed by technology companies.

A loudmouthed everyman, O’Rourke speaks with the fervency of a lapsed believer, shifting between snarky humour and righteous anger. Daisey’s story of Silicon Valley titans and exploited Chinese workers focuses on the human centre of the computer industry, from its origins in DIY hobby kits to today’s meticulous production-lines. Among many revelations, the most startling is that we live in a truly hand-made world.

The Agony and the Ecstasy has run into controversy for fabricating incidents. Frankly the defence that it is a play, not bound by the rules of journalism, is disingenuous. Nonetheless, this is searing, important work. Daisey bites into the tech world’s fruit of knowledge and finds it is rotten at the core.

Rating: * * *

• Until August 27

JONATHAN HOLMES