Riding the Wave.com
nytheatre.com review by Kwesi Cameron
August 15, 2004
The promo for Riding the Wave.com, featuring smiling a Buddha checking his stock quotes by cell phone, is the perfect metaphor for the craziness that inhabits this one-man show.
Written and performed by Jonathan Mirin, this personal journey through the dot.com world begins in 1999, with stops along the way in Switzerland and India and back to the USA. Mirin explains how the pick-pocketing and shoplifting habits he developed during his upper middle-class childhood led to his love for the stock market. He got a thrill from getting something for nothing. Later he becomes an actor and teaches in a public school to pay the rent. Another teacher, a failed broker from the ‘80s market crash, turns Mirin on to investing in the tech company Wave Systems, and he is hooked. A Boston Globe article about Wave Systems (included in the show’s press kit) compares it to “the kid voted ‘most likely to succeed’ in high school, who is still living in his parents’ basement 16 years later.” To its investors, called Wavoids, prosperity is always just around the corner. Having no money, Mirin uses several credit cards to invest.
His addiction leads him to anxiously call for quotes several times a day. Whether the stock goes up or crashes down, Mirin never sells, always waiting for the proverbial next big hit. He falls in love with the idea of being “rich” on paper. When the stock reaches its highest point, Mirin owes more than he is worth in credit card bills. Through his personal problems and tragedies, Mirin holds on to Wave like a lifeline.
When not checking quotes, he meditates. Visiting Europe on the cheap with borrowed money and credit cards, he decides to make a pilgrimage to India, both seeking spiritual enlightenment and avoiding his problems.
There are very funny moments in Riding the Wave.com. Mirin is a performer with energy to burn. Jason Grossman, the director, has done a good job of staging with limited props and keeping the action moving. The play occasionally gets bogged down in technical jargon; my head was spinning with stock prices at one point. It also has the tendency of sounding like one long monologue. Riding the Wave.com is at its best when its protagonist is interacting with the various characters he encounters over the years.
Does he sell? After finding someone to share his life, he becomes a “take carer” rather than a taker.