Elmer Rice - The Adding Machine
BBC Radio 3: Drama On 3
Broadcast: Sunday 2nd March 2008 @ 8:00 p.m.
BBC Radio 3 revives what is regarded by many as the first American Expressionist play. Set somewhere between social realism and
a surreal dystopia, "The Adding Machine", by Elmer Rice, is a surprising and entertaining play sitting squarely between comedy and
tragedy. This play helped re-define drama, and speaks to the increasingly depersonalised world and the isolation of technology even
more today than it did when it was first produced.
Written in 1923, "The Adding Machine" is a prescient Expressionist classic about a man stunted by the inexorable rhythm of his work
and also by the technology that threatens to displace him from it. Mr Zero has spent the last 25 years endlessly adding up columns of
figures and dreaming of advancement. But when the boss finally calls him into his office, Zero doesn't get the promotion he was
expecting. Overwhelmed by the soul-crushing weight of his life at work and at home, Zero commits an impulsive act of violence, thus
beginning his journey to heaven, hell and places between and beyond.
Elmer Rice was a theatrical pioneer and social campaigner. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1929 for "Street Scene", about life in the slums,
and continued writing plays until 1958, commenting on the American Depression, Soviet Russia, and the rise of Fascism.
With Nathan Osgood [Mr. Zero], Rebecca Front [Mrs. Zero], Gina Bellman [Daisy], John Rogan [Mr. Shrdlu], Danny Sapani [Lieutenant
Charles / The Head], Peter Marinker [Mr. One / Boss], Liza Sadovy [Mrs. One], Chris Pavlo [Mr.Two / Joe], Liz Sutherland [Mrs. Two /
Judy], and Ben Crowe [Young Man / Policeman].
Produced by Steven Canning and Abigail le Fleming
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