The Free Press, Mankato, MN


May 9, 2013

Welcome to the machine: Gustavus opens production of Treadwell's 'Machinal'


Working as a stenographer in a busy office, Helen is extended an offer of marriage by the rapacious owner of the company. Giving in to her own illusions as well as societal pressures, she reluctantly acquiesces. After suffering an isolating and suffocating existence as an employee, wife and mother, Helen begins to shed the cultural anchors that keep her moored to a dissatisfying life.

"Helen is an everywoman who is buffeted on all sides by the forces of society, the business world and sexual politics," Seham said. "The challenge is, how do we show the audience how these people have become so mechanized."

To that effect, Gustavus junior Anna Michel designed a soundtrack punctuated by the din of machines and motorized devices. The framework for the set, too, is angular and minimalistic with only an octagonal centerpiece and four tiered wedges that form a surrounding platform.

Gustavus senior Rush Benson choreographed much of the performance. Seham praised his work for creating "very interesting and innovative" movements that convey a sense of mechanization and isolation.

Yet, Seham insists the play isn't entirely despondent.

Observers will note how the technical elements underscore the inner turmoil on stage. And audiences will even find moments of passion and self-expression, especially in the scenes between Helen and her lover.

"It's not just a gloomy show," Seham said. "There is still a lot of color and action."

HED: If You Go BOLD: What 'Machinal' BOLD: When 8 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday. Also, 2 p.m. on Sunday BOLD: Where Gustavus Adolphe College BOLD: Admission Free

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