Machinal, Sophie Treadwell’s 1920s piece inspired by true events, is a thought-provoking work which illuminates feminist issues that are relevant today.
Director Imara Savage deftly weaves the American Expressionist play’s once ground-breaking ideas of self-determination with modern-day concerns of a women’s place in the world.
The ‘Young Woman’, working in a stifling office, is offered the choice of accepting her boss’s unwelcome marriage proposal or slaving away to support her mother.
That choice, in that time, was fairly obvious for ‘good’ girls. Though today her decision might seem terribly old-fashioned and limiting, it is still a dilemma with currency.
The Young Woman’s revolt and developing self-awareness lead to a cascade of increasingly weighty choices, including finding joy so long denied and its crushing outcome.
Machinal is an important piece of theatre history. Intelligently staged with riveting performances and design that faithfully fracture what the Young Woman experiences.
The smart set and creative lighting do much for the progression of the show. At times the tempo and message could be subtler, but overall Machinal is worth seeing, for its place in theatre and this compelling contemporary adaptation. (OA)
Until Dec 7, Sydney Theatre Company, 22 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay, $30, 9250 1777, sydneytheatre.org.au