Machinal is a play written by American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell, inspired by the real life case of convicted and executed murderer Ruth Snyder. Its 1928 Broadway première, directed byArthur Hopkins, is considered one of the highpoints of Expressionist theatre on the American stage. It was included in Burns Mantle‘s The Best Plays of 1928-1929
The story involves Helen, whose entire life has been dictated to her. She follows the rituals that society expects of a woman, however resistant she may feel about them, and subsequently marries her boss, whom she finds repulsive. After having a baby with him, followed by an affair with a younger man who fuels her lust for life, she is driven to murder her husband. She is found guilty of the crime and is executed in an electric chair.
Review of “Machinal” at American Airlines Theatre with Rebecca Hall