Rebecca Hall lauded for Broadway debut in 'Machinal'

Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:32pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It was written in the late 1920s, hasn't been staged on Broadway in more than 80 years and isn't a sexy musical, but critics praised the revival of "Machinal" and its star Rebecca Hall, saying it is a "must-see" production.

The stylized drama by playwright Sophie Treadwell that opened on Thursday at the American Airlines Theater was inspired by the true story of Ruth Snyder, a New York woman who was executed in the electric chair for the murder of her husband in January 1928 at the age of 33.

"'Machinal' is a vivid, bracing portrait of a woman pushed to the edge, but it doesn't involve any weepy psychologizing," said the New York Post.

"What makes the show so fascinating is the contrast between its cerebral approach and Hall's compassionate performance."

With its modernist prose style and dark theme it is not an easy play, but the Post said its director Lyndsey Turner and Hall, in her Broadway debut, "have made it a must see."

""Machinal' is one of those lost ahead-of-its-time plays that gets found by successive generations," said the Independent newspaper of London, adding it has been greatly staged in New York.

The Hollywood Reporter described the production as a "bristling revival" with an enduring intensity and committed actors.

"But it's Hall who rivets attention, holding nothing back in her tortured portrayal of this everywoman's dehumanizing downward spiral as she's failed by her own survival skills and by everyone around her," it added.   Continued...

British actress Rebecca Hall takes part in a panel discussion of HBO's "Parade's End" during the 2013 Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, California, January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas