by Sophie Treadwell
Rutgers Theater Company, 2011
Director: Melissa Firlit
Set Designer: So Mi Ko
Costume Designer: Mandy Swing
Photography by Larry Levanti and
A work of American expressionism, Machinal examines the link between increasing technology and decreasing humanity. In a stifling world of routine and proscriptive identities, the Young Woman begins the play strangled by the pressures of trying to make enough money to support her mother. But when her boss, George H. Jones, proposes to her, she is forced to choose wealth over love. To break free of her isolation, the Young Woman meets a man at a speakeasy and finds what she thinks is real love. Thinking her Lover will steal her away, she murders Jones and is sentenced to the electric chair. In her final moments, she tries to retain all the dignity she she can.
In this angular, episodic production, the lighting seeks to highlight the divide between the Young Woman's two distinct worlds: the overwhelming, cold, sterile world of society, and the brief moments within it in which she is able to feel real love. The prominent set piece of the gears and chain link city function as a metaphor for the unceasing society that eventually grinds the Young Woman to dust, but also serves as a canvas to express the range of her jagged emotional states.