20 January 2013

Adding It Up

Watching the Regent University production of Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine brought to mind the "tourist's lament:" Wherever you go, there you are. In other words, no matter how far from home you travel, however unfamiliar your new circumstances may be, you remain you with all your proclivities and tendencies. The added insight of The Adding Machine is to extend this aphorism to life after life.

What started as an account of the humdrum life of everyman Mr. Zero, caught as a cog in the matrix of early twentieth century capitalism, about to be replaced by a machine after twenty-five years of punctilious service-- after his execution for murdering his boss--turned into a deeper explanation for Zero's life of despair. The Adding Machine is not a Luddite screed against the dehumanizing effect of modern corporate employment and relentless capitalistic "creative destruction." It is rather a cogent examination of the human condition from the inside out. Zero's bent toward slavish service punctuated by raging destruction had been repeated through many preceding lives and was to enacted again even after a break in the Elysian Fields. Zero's commitment to the tedium of work disguised a fear of the wonders (and risks) of life. The victim was simultaneously the oppressor.
Assistant Professor Ching
As can be expected (see here, here, here, here, and here for some of my earlier Regent Theatre reviews), the production of The Adding machine was superb. I occasionally had difficulty in understanding Lauren McDonald's Mrs. Zero and Alicia Bonham's Daisy sometimes seemed to switch between a New York City and Minnesota accent but these were minor issues. And does anyone else think that Andrew Lease (Mr. Zero) looks like my Regent law faculty colleague Dave Velloney?

Don't see The Adding Machine for its theology but do see it for its insights into the human predicament.

1 comment:

  1. Professor Pryor - thanks so much for your thoughts and support for our recent production! Much appreciated! Scott Hayes