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i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Life is a Machine

February 22, 2005

Although I haven't yet finished my reading, the very first thing I noticed about Sophie Treadwell's "Machinal" is the connection to Rice's "The Adding Machine:" "Machinal was first performed in Great Britain as The Life Machine in 1931."

The introduction mentions reviews of Machinal comparing its technique to that using by Rice. The opening scene takes place in an office setting with the sounds of typing and clicking filling the air - one of the characters is using an adding machine. The key difference, I think, will be the intent of the characters: Zero enjoyed (or, at least, tolerated well) his job. The young woman in this play definitely does not.

The next thing I noted was that the filing clerk used the phrase "hot dog!" 15 times in the Episode One. Yes, I counted. I mean, if you care... There was a lot of other repitition throughout as well which served to add to the chaotic feel of the environment... kind of makes me think of office small talk today - everyone talking about the same dull things over and over again. Sigh...

Next, this section from Episode One sets up the scene for the rest of the play pretty nicely:

"TELEPHONE GIRL: Why did you flinch, kid?
YOUNG WOMAN: Flinch?
TELEPHONE GIRL: Did he pinch?
YOUNG WOMAN: No!
TELEPHONE GIRL: Then what?
YOUNG WOMAN: Nothing! - Just his hand."

At this, the telephone girl urges the young woman to tell Mr. Jones no to which the others tell her she'll lose her job if she does. At this point, the young woman is basically trapped. At the end of Episode One, when she is considering her options in her monologue, it is clear that her choice is not a choice at all: she can marry her boss, whom she doesn't love and who actually repulses her, or she can keep working at her crappy job. As her thoughts turn to the idea of her sleeping in, it becomes clear which path she will choose. Of course, I'll have to keep reading in order to be sure...

Moira at 03:56 PM :: Comments (0) :: ::
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