Machinal


Running late, I know. Extenuating circumstances, not the least of which being the imminent end of the project. I have one play left to read, and while I'm looking forward to wrapping up I am also procrastinating in order to stretch it all out.

Anyways, the nigh-penultimate play of the marathon is Sophie Treadwell's Machinal, an expressionist masterpiece that was largely neglected until a 1993 revival at the Royal National Theatre. Since then, it's made the rounds in reinvention after reinvention.

I just can't figure out why it was neglected. What an amazing script, one that flies off the page with rhythm and energy and excitement. Reading, I could feel the pulse of it all, an electric sense of the pace and beat of the the play. It's almost a musical, infused with jazz. (Speaking of which, has no-one done a musical adaptation? It seems like a natural.)

Part of it is, I suppose, waiting for modern theatre to catch up with this 1928 script. It must have seemed like an alien artifact dropped in amongst the landscape of the day. Now the open set, highly doubled casting, and epic storytelling style are part of our vocabulary and seem effortlessly modern. It is cold and beautiful and classic.

2 comments:

December 20, 2009 at 11:07 PM Costumegirl77 said...

I designed costumes for a University production of this play.. Just like you I thought it was an amazing script. I'm glad you wrote about it!

December 21, 2009 at 8:17 AM Mark Fossen said...

Thanks for commenting! I've never seen a production, but I hope to soon ...

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