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If You See Something Say Something

Mike Daisey's latest solo show is a provocative, educational, and entertaining examination of post-9/11 America.

Mike Daisey in If You See Something, Say Something
(© Kenneth Aaron)
Mike Daisey enters the stage at Joe's Pub and lays down a suspicious package. By the end of the monologist's act, we'll know what's in it, and it may engender an ethical dilemma amongst some audience members for a show that ironically uses the MTA's vigilance advertising campaign slogan as its title: If You See Something Say Something. The uneasiness evoked by Daisey's revelation just adds to the impact of his latest solo show, which is a provocative, educational, and entertaining examination of post-9/11 America, and the "language of security" that defines it.

There are two primary threads that Daisey follows within the piece: his own journey to the Trinity Site at White Sands Missile Range in New Meixco, where the first atomic bomb was tested, and the story of Sam Cohen, inventor of the neutron bomb. There's a great deal of information that Daisey imparts, but like any good teacher, he demonstrates a passion for his material that draws his audience in. The writer/performer also occasionally breaks from a straightforward detailing of the facts to put words in the mouths of famous historical personalities like George Washington, using contemporary (and profane) slang for humorous effect.

If You See Something Say Something incorporates less of the author's own autobiography than several of his previous solo shows, such as 21 Dog Years, Invincible Summer, and How Theater Failed America. However, Daisey still includes personal anecdotes to illustrate some of the larger issues he's tackling within the performance. One of the highlights of the show is his description of how he was pickpocketed in Rome and the lengths he went to afterwards to ensure it would not happen again. This nicely segues into a more pointed critique of the "reactive security" that is often practiced in both the public and private sectors.

The performance, directed by Jean-Michele Gregory, is well paced with Daisey at times slowing down for dramatic effect or launching into a manic frenzy to make a specific observation. He has a gift for well chosen descriptive phrases, and his often wry mode of speaking is nicely complemented by his rubbery face and expressive eyes.

Upon leaving the theater, you may feel motivated to look up some of the people and subjects mentioned, as Daisey provides plenty of food for thought. And while the opinions he expresses are more likely to be in tune with liberal-minded audiences, the show would be of value to patrons of all political persuasions.

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