4th June-21 July 2018
by Sophie Treadwell
Directed by Natalie Abrahami
One of the best plays I’ve seen in a long time.
“Love!- What does it amount to! Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?”
Sophie Treadwell’s 1928 play ‘Machinal’ is set in modern day New York City and at times it is scarily relevant to the climate today. The directorial decision to set this play in the modern world makes for a very interesting and eye-opening evening.
Machinal is inspired by the true story of Ruth Snyder who was executed for murdering her abusive husband. The play is spilt into nine episodes which each give a different insight into the main character’s life e.g business, home and family life. These short bursts of action are intimate and explosive making the play very gripping throughout the entire piece.
The performances by the whole company are very captivating. The ensemble represent a machine in several scenes which is done flawlessly. The leads Emily Berrington and Jonathon Livingston are both excellent. There were times I felt hate for Jones (played by Jonathon Livingston) and both empathy and fear for Emily Berrington’s character. The characters are fascinating and it was very easy for me to connect with them.
The set design by Miriam Buether is stunning. A cleverly placed mirror gives another view of the stage which I found myself watching at times and this portrayed some beautiful imagery.
Every aspect of the theatre process comes together beautifully in this play and the whole piece feels like a machine, which perfectly represents life in a busy city. Emily Berrington’s portrayal of the main character leaves the audience to decide whether they believe she is a victim of circumstance and abuse or a mentally ill person. The eerie play finished on the line of ‘I will not submit’ which feels like a woman rebelling.
I would thoroughly recommend seeing this play for its interesting portrayal of the 1928 feminist play and the incredible set design.