Stunning drama explores path to murder

by Beverly Friend (published January 8, 2003)
Lerner News-Star

“In nine images filled arresting images, Sophie Treadwell’s stunning 1928 drama, Machinal, develops and explores the psyche of a fragile young woman trapped in a bare and banal life – a dead-end job, a dependent parent and a repellent marriage – who ultimately murders her husband…”

“…Kudos to [director]/set designer Sean Graney for creating the varied world of each taut episode.”

“To Business provides an extraordinary opening, an office filled with a cacophony of sound. Phones ring, typewriters clack, and the staff – Telephone Girl (Halena Kays), Stenographer (Amanda Putman), Adding Clerk (Carmen Aiello) and Filing Clerk (John Byrnes) – engage in a fascinating display of repetitious, rapid-fire speech. The staccato delivery and expert timing emphasize the dehumanizing effect of the workplace. Helen, dressed in contrast to the bright red garb of her fellow workers, arrives late, apprehensive about her job, and even more worried about the romantic intent of a marriage-minded boss (Kurt Ehrmann) 30 years her senior…”

“…Throughout, Moe performs wonderfully in a tortured role evolving through a sequence of urban nightmares: from worker and daughter to wife, mother, adulteress and murderer. She’s especially effective delivering long, complex, paranoid, interior monologues revealing her anguish. Like the filmed flower shown blossoming on the metal screen between scenes, she unfolds beautifully in Intimate, when she finds her only – too brief – experience of happiness with her lover. In a life of continual indignity, where she’s forced to submit – to marriage, to motherhood, to the electric chair – Moe brings radiance to her character in this vivid episode.”