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MACHINAL BROADWAY REVIEWS
Opening Night: January 16, 2014
Synopsis: Golden Globe nominee Rebecca Hall stars in this inventive new production of Sophie Treadwell’s gripping drama helmed by acclaimed British director Lyndsey Turner. Inspired by the infamous 1927 murder trial of Ruth Snyder, Machinal is a riveting look at the danger that can come from a life unlived.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:
"A desperate life blazes amid devouring shadows in the Roundabout Theater Company’s intensely stylish revival of Machinal, Sophie Treadwell’s fascinating play from 1928 about one woman’s captivity in a hell called New York City. That life is embodied by the charismatic British stage and film star Rebecca Hall, in her Broadway debut, so you can bet that it’s going to burn bright. "
"Though Sophie Treadwell didn’t call for it in the text, the superb Roundabout revival of her 1928 play Machinal begins, quite fittingly, with a machine. In very dim light we perceive a subway car crowded with gray humans lurching and shaking; a woman pushes through the throng, desperate for an exit. You feel her claustrophobic panic, the sense that this hell-tube is apt to crush her."
"You’ve got to give Rebecca Hall credit for not choosing a flattering, easily digestible star vehicle to make her arresting Broadway debut. Instead she opts for challenging material that could not be more diametrically opposed to the entertainment ethos of, say, Iron Man 3, to name one of the actor’s recent screen jobs. Inspired by the infamous New York murder trial and execution of Ruth Snyder early that year, Sophie Treadwell’s 1928 expressionist psychodrama, Machinal, is an airless examination of a desperate woman’s convulsive reaction against the confinement of marriage and motherhood in a society shaped by men and money."
"Most of us are unfamiliar with Sophie Treadwell's play Machinal, which is playing now on Broadway, a play lost to history but with themes that remain current in a number of ways. The recurring motifs of light within darkness, freedom under pressure, and individuality beyond convention will resonate with many theatergoers. What stands out, though, is how different we deal with mental illness (and the perception of it) today versus less than a century ago. "
"The action in the Roundabout’s lavishly produced, but frustrating revival of Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal takes place in a rectangular room with thick, ash-hued walls. The room sits atop a turntable, and the set rotates — or lurches — 90 degrees with each scene change. Both the shape and prison-like feel of the environment seem apt, since the protagonist of the 1928 Expressionist drama is a woman boxed in and suffocated by the people in her orbit. Guided by British director Lyndsey Turner and starring Rebecca Hall (a Golden Globe nominee for Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Machinal has just opened at the American Airlines Theatre. It’s the play’s first Broadway revival in 86 years."
"When Machinal premiered in 1928, it must have been very daring: a highly stylized, nonrealistic dramatization of very real headline-making events. (The trial, conviction, and electric-chair execution of New York housewife/mother Ruth Snyder inspired Sophie Treadwell's Expressionist play.) And even 86 years later, Machinal — now receiving a beautifully well-appointed Broadway revival starring the superb Rebecca Hall and an even-more-superb rotating set — is still a bit bold: an unsettling journey inside the mundane marriage and troubled mind of a young woman (Hall) who murders her straitlaced husband (Michael Cumpsty, typecast again as the stuffiest guy in the room)."
"Broadway is a strange place where many great plays are revived so often – and often recklessly – that they lose their luster while other equally worthy plays from the past are ignored by producers out of either ignorance or a fear of risk-taking. The Roundabout Theatre Company, Broadway’s leading not-for-profit producer of revivals, is often guilty of bringing back classic plays that were already revived in recent years (i.e. last year’s Cyrano). Sophie Treadwell’s rarely-seen, Expressionist 1928 drama Machinal is the rare play that, in spite of being artistically significant and culturally relevant, has not been seen on Broadway since its premiere almost a century ago."
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