REVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams


By Sophie Treadwell.

Directed by Jacob Harvey.

Movement direction by Elizabeth Margolius.

At the Greenhouse Theater Center, Chicago.

Passionate performance by Heather Chrisler propels the drama, Machinal.

Using a stylishly theatrical presentation, director Jacob Harvey and movement director Elizabeth Margolis have underscored the life traps inherent in the 1920’s life of women in the USA. It seems that woman were transformed into machines that functioned as a wife dependent on a husband, as a stenographer, and as a mother. These machine roles did stifle the independence and personality of many women. Machinal is the 1928 drama by Sophie Treadwell based on her coverage of the trial of Ruth Snyder who was the first woman executed for murdering her husband.

We witness the ‘Younf Woman’ (HeatherĀ  Chrieler) as she becomes more trapped by societies roles for woman in the 1920’s. She struggles between being in captivity and personal freedom. She is an early feminist who is repulsed by her loss touch with whom she is pushed to marry and have a child.

After six years of living hell, sho has a fling with a flyby lover (Cody Proctor). This joy was short lived as she had to return home to her loveless marriage. Her yearning for more freedom leads her to an act of violence that pushes her into another of societies machines, the justice system and her ultimate role.

What makes this drama sizzle are two main factors. One, the strong yet subtly nuanced performance by Heather Chrisler. She makes us feel how trapped his is. And the brilliant staging and ensemble work from the cast. The tedium and repititious ‘machine’ of office work and the roles each play in society as marvelously presented here. This 90 minute one-act builds into a compelling work that almost justifies Young Girls actions. We feel her pain yet we condemn her actions but undertand how she acted out.

This is a terrific ensembel work with an excellent performance. by Heather Chrisler. She is outstanding and she makes Machinal work.


Tom Williams.

Jeff Recommended.

At he Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336,, tickets $35, students $15, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission.