Inspired by the real-life case of Ruth Snyder, a convicted murderer who was sentenced to death, Machinal premiered on Broadway Sept. 7, 1928, at the Plymouth Theatre (now the Gerald Schoenfeld). Arthur Hopkins staged the production, which featured Zita Johann in the central role of Young Woman and a young Clark Gable in his Broadway debut.
The production was noted for its distinct style and expressionistic approach to drama. Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times wrote: "Subdued, monotonous, episodic, occasionally eccentric in its style, Machinal is fraught with a beauty unfamiliar to the stage." The play ran for 91 performances before closing on Nov. 24, 1928.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.