The agony and ecstasy of an Edinburgh Fringe show about Steve Jobs

The familiar face of Steve Jobs holding up one of his beloved products is instantly recognisable. Having recently read the biography of his life, I was drawn to the poster in the Gilded Balloon and decided to give it a go. I found Steve Jobs very inspiring as he revolutionised various industries: computers, music, phones, animation and films.

This show is written by Mike Daisey but performed by Grant O’Rourke. It’s based on Mike’s experience as an Apple fanboy and how he visited China to see the poor conditions workers were subjected to. Workers had to put together the products by hand to ensure every little detail is accurate and then test them rigorously. They often worked 12-15 hour shifts with some even working 24 hours and some driven to suicide, jumping from the roof, so much so that management put up netting to catch them.

He touches on the history of Apple and how Jobs was a visionary and entrepreneur in contrast to the geeky, technical skill of Steve Wozniak. The fantastic eye for design is accredited to Jobs but he is also clear on his ruthless streak. For example, an early piece of work they did together was for Atari and Jobs specified to Wozniak that the game had to be on a certain number of chips so that they would receive $1000. Later Wozniak discovered, Jobs had actually been paid $5000 for the work.

Apple’s history gets more interesting as they progress and it is clear that only Jobs is prepared to ‘knife the baby’ (the Apple 2) in order to grow. He is then asked to leave his own company but returns a few years later to sack the board and significantly introduce the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

The account of his trip was detailed and he obviously spent lots of time interviewing workers and finding out how they were surprising intelligent people who had moved from poorer areas to earn a living. The agony of this show though could be that it is not clear how much of the story is actually true and having looked online, I can see some of the story has been contested. Despite this it was well performed and presented. Who knows how good Ashton Kutcher will be in the upcoming ‘Jobs’ movie though!

Remaining shows can be booked here:

Steve Ferguson