Machinal is a play written by American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell, inspired by the real life case of convicted and executed murderess Ruth Snyder. The play stands out as one that calls for a vast array of specific sound effects. Its 1928 Broadway premiere, directed by Arthur Hopkins, is considered one of the highpoints of expressionist theatre on the American stage.

Plot synopsis

The story involves Helen whose entire life has been dictated by the people and machines around 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 meets her end in one of the deadliest of machines, the electric chair.

Clark Gable originally played the role of "Man" a.k.a. Richard Roe

Awards and nominations


  • 1994 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival


  • Machinal. Novelguide. Retrieved on 2008-10-09..

Further reading

External links

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