The Adding Machine

Play

Writers: Elmer Rice

Overview

Show Information

Book
Category
Play
Number of Acts
1
First Produced
1923
Genres
Settings
Multiple Settings, Period, Fantasy/Imaginary
Time & Place
1920s, New York City, jail, afterlife
Cast Size
large
Dancing
None
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, High School, Large Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Star Vehicle Male
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, mature adult, young adult, child, early teen, late teen, elderly characters

Synopsis

This darkly comic, expressionistic masterpiece follows the exploits of Mr. Zero, a hard-working, pseudo-Everyman as he toils through his rather inconsequential existence working at a Macy's-like department store. When he discovers that after 25 years of determined dedication on his job, he will be fired and replaced by a machine, Mr. Zero kills his boss. His murderous deed leads to a further dehumanization: Before his execution, Mr. Zero is put on display for sightseers to marvel at, the “North American Murderer.” But death isn’t the end: Mr. Zero meanders through the afterlife, unable and unwilling to learn from the consequences of his actions, until a worse fate is hoisted upon him. A touchstone of American expressionism, Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine creates an enigmatic anti-hero and a bleak critique of the society that has made him.

Lead Characters


The Adding Machine guide sections