Never in my life have I seen the wheels and cogs of our government and
financial infrastructures so exposed. While the parade of bank C.E.O.s
and captains of industry sputter their ephemeral excuses to an enraged
public I would just once like to see someone with the courage of their
convictions. Which is why I was pleased to see that Brava was producing
Sophie Treadwell’s impressionistic Machinal. It is a brave, unflinching, and honest production when we need it most.
play was first produced in 1928, and I couldn’t help but feel the
playwright smiling sardonically as both her
story and our own unraveled yet again. While millions stand to lose
their homes to faceless bureaucrats and millions more are thrown into
the shrinking safety net, Machinal’s message seems a sad coda, but one that is also strangely uplifting.
play is peopled by stiffly drawn archetypes as a backdrop for one
woman’s attempt to live a free existence. After suffering a boorish
husband, a parasitic mother, and her only exposure to love in the form
of a meandering lothario, she takes matters into her own hands and is
ultimately crushed. My memories of viewing impressionistic plays of
this era are not happy ones. Either they are message sledge hammers
wielded by directors who must be heard, or worse – drafting tables for over ambitious designers. I am elated to report that this is far from the case with Machinal.
The restraint shown by the director’s intelligent vision and the cast’s
note-perfect performances offer a show that rises above its own
desperate story and furnishes a potent examination of ourselves.
Written by Sophie Treadwell
Directed by Evren Odcikin
March 11 – 21, 2009 at 8 PM