Interview with Lyndsey Turner, Director

Posted on: December 13th, 2013 by Ted Sod


Ted Sod: Why did you choose to direct Machinal

Lyndsey Turner: I first read Machinal when I was at university: I was struck by the boldness of the writing, the way Treadwell follows, with brutal inexorable logic, the journey of an unremarkable woman through a series of encounters which lead her to commit a remarkable act. The play is a brilliant account of the impact of mechanization and industrialization on American society, as well a forensic and unflinching portrait of a young woman in crisis.

I’ve loved the play for years, so when the Roundabout approached me and asked whether I might be interested in making a new production of it, I pretty near fell off my chair. Machinal isn’t Medea: it’s not about a princess making a grand gesture in order to exact revenge, it’s about an ordinary working woman. And as much as it concerns itself with love, death, birth, and identity, Treadwell’s scenes are also full of the stuff of life: salesmen who dream of Swiss watches, a panic attack on the subway, the proper way to wash dishes. But it’s also a play which demands a great deal of the actor playing Helen, which is why I was beyond thrilled when Rebecca Hall came on board. It takes a great deal of humanity, craft, and courage to play a character who isn’t allowed to act on her own behalf, and Rebecca is one of the only actors of her generation with the creativity, precision, and insight to create that performance. 


Rebecca Hall in rehearsal for Machinal. Photo by Jenny Anderson.


TS: What do you think the play is about?

LT: The play was written as a response to the death of Ruth Snyder, the first woman to be sentenced to the electric chair as a punishment for murdering her husband. Despite the fact that no cameras were permitted in the chamber where Snyder died, a journalist hid a device in his trousers and managed to take a picture moments after her death. The photograph made the front pages of newspapers around the country the next day. Treadwell was a journalist who had covered a number of high profile trials in which women were accused of murdering their husbands. I feel certain that the writer was interested not only in the circumstances that led to these murders, but also in the way these trials became media sensations. This image of a woman whose words, movements, clothes, sexual relationships and fitness to be a mother had come in for daily scrutiny throughout a court case which had lasted months, now sitting dead in an electric chair for all the world to see must have struck Treadwell as obscene. Even in death, Snyder was regarded as public property.

Treadwell had completed Machinal within four months of Synder’s death. And although the play isn’t concerned with telling the story of this now notorious murderess, its focus on the ways in which the increasing mechanization of the workplace, the stultifying domesticity of marriage, the ruthless expertise of the medical profession, and the impossibility of finding a place of peace or rest in an increasingly frenetic world provide a context in which a woman might be driven to take a violent and radical action in order to break free.

The play gives the lie to the image of the 1920s as a decade of unprecedented freedom: it’s a savage indictment of a society whose pursuit of efficiency and prosperity leads to a woman becoming trapped in the very machines designed to liberate her.

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Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Machinal, Upstage

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Machinal Casting Announcement

Posted on: November 4th, 2013 by Todd Haimes


Rebecca Hall

Suzanne Bertish

Morgan Spector

Michael Cumpsty

It is my pleasure to announce the complete cast of Machinal, written by Sophie Treadwell and directed by Lyndsey Turner. Suzanne Bertish (Mother), Michael Cumpsty (Husband), and Morgan Spector (Lover) will join the previously announced Rebecca Hall. In addition, the cast will feature Damian Baldet, Ashley Bell, Jeff Biehl, Arnie Burton, Ryan Dinning, Scott Drummond, Dion Graham, Edward James HylandJason Loughlin, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Daniel Pearce, Henny Russell, Karen Walsh, and Michael Warner.

As always, it is wonderful to welcome back so many Roundabout alumni: Suzanne Bertish (The Moliere Comedies), Michael Cumpsty (The Winslow Boy, Sunday in the Park with George), Morgan Spector (Harvey), Edward James Highland (Juno and the Paycock), Henny Russell (The Winslow Boy), Karen Walsh (Pygmalion), and Michael Warner (The Language of Trees).

I am also thrilled to welcome the rest of the company to the Roundabout family. Their collective credits are truly extraordinary, and I know this cast will do incredible work on this dark and challenging play. The remarkable creative team includes Es Devlin (Sets), Michael Krass (Costumes), Matt Tierney (Sound), and Jane Cox (Lights).

For more information about Machinal and tickets, please visit our website.

Todd Haimes

Artistic Director

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Machinal



I am excited to announce that the second production at the American Airlines theatre in our 2013-2014 season will be Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, directed by Lyndsey Turner and starring Rebecca Hall.

I am so thrilled to welcome these talented women into the Roundabout family with their Broadway debuts.

Both Rebecca and Lyndsey are fixtures in the West End. The Royal Court remounted Lyndsey’s hit production of Posh last season, and her production of Chimerica is currently in previews at the Almeida Theatre. In addition to her numerous theatre credits, including such notable productions as Mrs. Warren’s Profession, As You Like It, and The Cherry Orchard , Rebecca received critical acclaim for her role in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” and can currently be seen in “Iron Man 3.”

Machinal is an ambitious and highly stylized play that hasn’t been seen on Broadway since 1928, and this production will be an exciting addition to our 2013-2014 season.

Productions in the 2013-2014 Season are currently only available to subscribers. To learn more about our variety of subscription packages and exclusive benefits please visit our website.

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Machinal

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