Broadway Revival of Machinal, Inspired by Murder Trial of Ruth Snyder, Concludes March 2

By Michael Gioia
02 Mar 2014

Rebecca Hall
Rebecca Hall
Photo by Joan Marcus

Roundabout Theatre Company's new Broadway production of Sophie Treadwell's Machinal, starring Golden Globe nominee Rebecca Hall as real-life murderer Ruth Snyder, concludes its run at the American Airlines Theatre March 2.  

Hall made her Broadway debut as Young Woman — the character based on Snyder, who is sentenced to death — in the limited engagement, which began previews Dec. 20, 2013, prior to an official opening Jan. 16.

Director Lyndsey Turner (Chimerica at Almeida; Philadelphia, Here I Come! at Donmar) also made her Broadway debut. When Turner turned to Hall to play Machinal's leading lady, "I just instantly responded to her," Hall told Playbill magazine. "She hasn't directed me before, but I felt such an overwhelming trust in her presence that I knew I could probably do anything she asked me to do." 

Of her character, Hall added, "In the play, she's described as a young woman who's like any woman. I think Treadwell is trying to say there is nothing particularly extraordinary about her. She's an Everywoman, and the story's about how an ordinary woman, in not extraordinary circumstances, is driven to murder. Nothing makes her mad or crazy. She's normal."



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Tony Award nominees Suzanne Bertish (The Moliére Comedies) and Michael Cumpsty (The Winslow Boy, End of the Rainbow) play Mother and Husband, respectively, with Drama Desk nominee Morgan Spector (Russian Transport) as Lover. 

Rounding out the cast are Damian Baldet (The Lion King), Ashley Bell ("The Last Exorcism"), Jeff Biehl (Off-Broadway's Burning), Arnie Burton (The 39 Steps), Ryan Dinning ("The Carrie Diaries"), Scott Drummond (Off-Broadway's A Perfect Future), Dion Graham (Not About Nightingales), Edward James Hyland (Arcadia), Jason Loughlin (national tour of War Horse), Maria-Christina Oliveras (Off-Broadway's Here Lies Love), Daniel Pearce (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Henny Russell (The Winslow Boy), Karen Walsh (Other Desert Cities) and Michael Warner (Off-Broadway's Scarcity).

Here's how the play is billed: "Inspired by the infamous 1927 murder trial of Ruth Snyder, Machinal is a gripping drama by American journalist and playwright Sophie Treadwell. It's America's Golden Age, a time of happiness, freedom and prosperity – or is it? For the Young Woman (Hall), a stenographer in the industrial, male-dominated world of the 1920s, life is nothing like she hoped it would be. Restless and unfulfilled in a passionless marriage and unwanted motherhood, she finds her only joy in the form of an illicit love affair. But when reality sets in and she must return to her routine existence, she’ll go to any lengths to regain her freedom. A groundbreaking work in the landscape of American theatre, Machinal is a riveting look at the danger that can come from a life unlived."

The creative team includes Es Devlin (sets), Michael Krass (costumes), Jane Cox (lights) and Matt Tierney (sound).

Hall's credits on the London stage include Mrs. Warren's Profession, which earned her the Ian Charleson Award in 2003, As You Like It (Ian Charleson-nominated), Man and Superman, The Fight for Barbara, Galileo's Daughter, Don Juan, A Winter's Tale (Ian Charleson Award), The Cherry Orchard (Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination) and Twelfth Night directed by her father, Sir Peter Hall. Hall can currently be seen on screen in "Iron Man 3." She received a Golden Globe Award nomination for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Her film credits also include "Lay the Favorite," "The Awakening," "The Town," "Everything Must Go," "Please Give," "Dorian Gray," "Frost/Nixon," "The Prestige" and "Starter for 10," which marked her feature-film debut.

Machinal premiered on Broadway in 1928 featuring a young Clark Gable in his Broadway debut and then in London in 1931 under the title of The Life Machine. The play was revived in 1993 in London featuring Fiona Shaw, Ciarán Hinds and John Woodvine and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival.

The American Airlines Theatre is located at 227 West 42nd Street. Visit RoundaboutTheatre.org.

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Rebecca Hall and Morgan Spector
Photo by Joan Marcus