Afterthoughts: The Adding Machine: The Musical, produced by The Hypocrites

Based on the original play by Elmer Rice. Musical by Joshua Schmidt & Jason Loewith, Directed by Geoff Button, Choreography by Katie Spelman, Musical Direction by Matt Deitchman, and Produced by The Hypocrites.

Musical theatre is often associated with sing-along refrains, catchy melodies, and heartfelt lyrics. When a subversive musical comes along, it takes some time to adjust. The Adding Machine: The Musical explores the dark side of technology and capitalism in this musical version of the 1923 play of the same name. The music, lyrics, and staging of this production remain topical in our uncertain 2016.

The production has a mechanical aesthetic that was present in the final piece of stagecraft and successfully informed the choreography (Katie Spelman) and movement (Director: Geoff Button). The choreography was fittingly discordant, as the actors chaotically moved furniture around the bare stage, mechanically moved to the staccato, and punctuated the discordance with movement slightly askew from nature.

I was disappointing that I didn’t see more of the inventive stagecraft in the vain of the maw of gears near the end; however, it was fascinating to see the choreography and direction handle the minimalistic aesthetic while simultaneously navigating the tough music, book, and lyrics.

This is a hard musical to produce and successfully publicized. I applaud The Hypocrites for undertaking the piece and successfully reflecting our current political and social consciousness into the mechanical boom of the 1920s. Corporations are currently working on methods to replace falsely secure workers with algorithms. As Mr. Zero saw his discipline replaced by an adding machine, blue and white collar workers today will experience this eventuality. How we deal culturally with this in the coming years will be worthwhile study. These questions, combined with the chaotic and discordant aesthetic, sound, and energy, make The Adding Machine: The Musical a worthwhile night at the theatre.

The Adding Machine: The Musical runs until May 15th. You can purchase tickets at The Hypocrites