One Year Lease

presents

MACHINAL

By SOPHIE TREADWELL

 

Theater for the New City

155 First Avenue, NYC

(212) 352-3101 or www.theatermania.com

www.oneyearlease.org

 

November 13 – December 6, 2003

 

Directed by IANTHE DEMOS

Asst. Director/Stage Manager KAREN LARKIN

Set Design JAMES HUNTING

Lighting Design MIKE RIGGS

Costume Design KAY LEE

Dramaturg JESSICA APPLEBAUM

Public Relations SARAH PARVIS

 

Cast

(in order of appearance)

Adding Clerk/Older Man at Bar/Reporter – Jarret Berenstein

Filing Clerk/Waiter/Bailiff/Barber – Jordan Cerruti

Telephone Girl/Nurse – Kate DiMarco

Stenographer/Mother/Woman at Bar – Marie-Pierre Beauséjour

George H. Jones/Judge – Bill Coelius

Young Woman – Ariane Barbanell

Doctor/Man at Bar/Barber – Marco Formosa

Lover/Priest – Durand Ford

2nd Man at Bar/Reporter – Sam George

Younger Man at Bar/Reporter – Brian M. Thomas

Lawyer for the Defense/Jailer – Brian Armstrong

Lawyer for the Prosecution – Jack McGowan

In1927 Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray went on trial for the murder of Ruth’s husband, Albert. Sophie Treadwell was one of the journalists who covered the trial, and she later wrote a theatrical adaptation loosely based on the actual events. That play was MACHINAL (1928).

While the Snyder-Gray trial also serves as the inspiration for the classic films "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Double Indemnity," Treadwell’s piece is perhaps the most introspective and cerebral of the three. In the real case, Ruth’s lover was an accomplice to the crime. Not so in MACHINAL, a work that has reached into the core of the matter, exploring the thought process of a killer rather than focusing on the ramifications of crime and punishment. The resulting drama, a highly stylized look into the mind of the young murderess, Helen (Ariane Barbanell), is a vital work that puts emphasis on the encompassing monotony of daily existence, and the effect that being, essentially, trapped within the machinery of daily life has upon the psyche of one troubled woman.

In the hands of One Year Lease, the dimensions of MACHINAL have been realized in ways I would have never envisioned. With the actors literally off the ground, and performing the majority of the play whilst climbing on, sitting on, or dangling from the upper rungs of the four ladders that serve as the major set pieces, the players themselves have taken on the character of living props, as if they were part and parcel of the spaces that surround them. The overall effect of this strategy made the story all the more mundane on the ladders, and all the more significant in the two major scenes, Helen’s affair and Helen’s execution, that are played on the ground. In contrast, everything else that happens seems like mindless detail, filler and repetition. Everything else feels like it is happening as Helen experiences it.

While not the most affecting version of MACHINAL I have ever attended, this was certainly the most uniquely inspired. With that, One Year Lease continues to present classics with a modern eye and the sort of unexpected execution that can make even the old and oft-seen seem like new again.

- Kessa De Santis -

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