Dark comedy ‘The Adding Machine’ playing at University of ToledoWritten by Matt Liasse | | email@example.com
Two days before opening night, the cast of “The Adding Machine” had trouble with a pivotal scene.
“Let’s do it one more time with the lights,” Director Irene Alby said.
Two cast members in biohazard suits were standing two stories above the stage, raising and dropping a yellow and blue spandex sheet. The scene requires the sheet to be dropped and smoothly spread on the floor. Then, a female cast member is to walk across it while playing a flute. The transition has to be done with no light in a matter of seconds – proving to be difficult.
For an hour during rehearsals, the sheet is raised and dropped more than 20 times.
“[This] is usual; it is also a pressured situation,” Alby said. “It’s also a specific type of show … this is the last scene and we’ve never done anything like this so there’s going to be some glitches.”
The line everyone on stage waits for is, “Without him, I might as well be alive,” the cue for the sheet to be dropped. After the sheet is smooth, the cast members then have a minute-and-a-half window for a costume change, returning wearing surgical masks for the final, intense scene.
“The Adding Machine,” written by Elmer Rise, is the first play of the season presented by the University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film. The play follows Mr. Zero on trial for murdering his boss after learning he would be replaced at work by an adding machine. After he is sentenced to death, Mr. Zero’s afterlife consists of many twists.
The content of the show are dark, but it is a comedy.
“It’s expressionism, so a lot of what we see is more interpreted from the point of view of the main character,” Alby said. “You’re going to see stuff that’s distorted, grotesque or exaggerated because that’s his state of being … rather than using realism, we’re manipulating and using metaphors and symbols.”
Sophomore Tyler Mitchell plays Mr. Zero and said he is an interesting character to play.
“No matter how much of a nobody he is, you can see through his journey he goes all over the place emotionally and psychologically,” Mitchell said.
The play’s movement is the most important: evident from the first scene. Every move the cast makes is stylized.
The show was written in the 1920s, but Alby said it’s still relevant today. The underlying theme is about dehumanizing technology. Machines replacing jobs of a person is something that happens today. The play displays these themes by including modern technology.
The play opened Oct. 24. Upcoming showings are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and 2 p.m. Nov. 2. For the Oct. 31 performance, attendees are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes for a chance to win prizes.
Tickets are on sale at the Center for Performing Arts box office, Towerview & West Rocket Blvd, by calling (419) 530-2375 or online at utoledo.edu/BoxOffice. Tickets are $7 for students, $10 for faculty, staff, alumni and seniors and $12 to the general public.