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  Machinal Reviews

The Greenhouse Theater Center
Thru - Sep 24, 2017

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The Greenhouse Theater Center

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  • Recommended
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Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...Treadwell wanted “Machinal” to be a Broadway hit in its day, which it was, and to take its place as an American tragedy. One of the very few with a female protagonist. She described it as a “tragedy in ten episodes” and, surely, she’d have been delighted by the thrilling currency of this single-act production and the case it makes for the representative magnitude of a Young Woman."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...What drives anyone - but especially a woman - to commit murder? That is the question that beats in the dark heart of "Machinal," the 1928 play by Sophie Treadwell that was in many ways far ahead of its time in both style and substance, and is now receiving an altogether remarkable revival at the Greenhouse Theater Center."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...Featuring crisp movement by Elizabeth Margolius, Jacob Harvey's Greenhouse Theater Center production respects Treadwell's expressionist aesthetic without getting homagey about it. The result is at once clinically distanced and painfully immediate as it dissects Helen's untenable life. Like Woyzeck himself, Heather Chrisler's Helen hovers between anti-hero and schlemiel. Her scene with Cody Proctor's stranger is quietly agonizing."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...This collaboration between the Greenhouse Center Theater and Naperville's North Central College is also lucky to have Heather Chrisler on board in the role of Helen. The stage picture frequently features our solitary martyr isolated in spotlight at its focal point, so that we register her slightest twitch or shiver, right down to the curl of her foot when the man she will come to hate touches her. The entire ensemble is superb, but this is the performance that you will remember."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...If an unsuspecting theatergoer looked at Sophie Treadwell's Machinal and judged simply by its date of origin, 1928, they might think that they were in for an evening of slightly stiff and overexaggerated realism-the kind of play where you can practically see the spurts of dust with every creaking, croaking line that is uttered. They would be wrong. Inspired by the real-life murder trial and execution of Ruth Snyder (an event that also inspired the film Double Indemnity), Machinal is a moody, jagged piece of expressionist drama. Scenes melt into stream-of-consciousness monologues that explode into fragmented vignettes."
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Alex Huntsberger

Stage and Cinema- Highly Recommended

"...Remarkably, everything on the Greenhouse stage is subordinated to the story, calculated to the last effect to drive Helen to one terrible choice. To argue that she had or that she lacked freedom to change her destiny is exactly what Treadwell's protest play wants us to do. We accept Helen's doom at our peril."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic- Recommended

"...What makes this drama sizzle are two main factors. One, the strong yet subtlely nuanced performance by Heather Chrisler. She makes us feel how trapped his is. And the brilliant staging and ensemle wotk from the cast. The tiedum and repitious '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."
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Tom Williams

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...While “Machinal” is based on the event that shocked the world, the play’s main character “young woman” (marvelously brought to life by Heather Chrisler ) has more heart and soul than one could anticipate from the knowledge of the actual event. Her life is somewhat mechanical, and her life with her mother ( Carin Silkaitis) undesirable. Her job, also is very routine and when the play opens, the ensemble is gathered center-stage answering phones for “big-business” and gossiping about her and her boss, who does become her husband ( deftly handled by Sean Gallagher)."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...Told in the Expressionist style, a perhaps little-known theatrical movement from the 1920's, and based upon a crime story ripped from the headlines of the day, this production is bitting, poignant, stylish and as solid as they come. It tells the sad story of a Young Woman trapped in a humdrum, everyday life that threatens to suffocate her. Never knowing fulfillment or happiness until one fateful night, she ends up committing a crime that will ultimately seal her fate forever. Skillfully and dynamically directed, the Greenhouse offers a meticulously conceived, emotionally acted and skillfully produced production that will resonate with audiences long after the final curtain."
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Colin Douglas

Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...Machinal is a splendid visual treat, but it's also a dramatic story about the Young Woman, who is oppressed by her family, her work and the men in her life. It's an early feminist story and the elements are drawn from the story of Ruth Snyder, who solved her marital unhappiness with a lover and then by murdering her husband. Snyder and her lover were executed after a sensational trial covered by many famous writers."
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Nancy Bishop

Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...Chrisler's Helen is absolutely heartbreaking, and the actress' convincing choices for this troubled woman makes for some difficult moments to watch unfold - especially when her stress starts to bubble over into an unmanageable level."
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Lauren Katz

The Hawk Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Director Jacob Harvey and movement director Elizabeth Margolius stage the production beautifully - the ensemble's choreography throughout (combined with gorgeous designs from all sides) is specific and poetic. Each transition is led by this group, flawlessly shifting us from location to location while stepping in and out of the story's dozens of supporting characters. Sean Gallagher (the smiley Husband), Cody Proctor (the unobtainable Lover) and Carin Silkaitis (Mother) steal their respective scenes, but Chrisler leaves the audience breathless. The production's devastating final moments will leave you shaken. Machinal is a must-see Chicago production."
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Jason Berger