note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey
Having just been to the Boston Lyric Opera’s TURN OF THE SCREW, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities. SpeakEasy Stage’s THE ADDING MACHINE (playing through April 10th) is billed as “A MUSICAL” but I’m pretty sure it’s an opera. Then again, SpeakEasy’s JERRY SPRINGER, THE OPERA turned out to be a musical. (Such are the peculiarities of theater these days.)
ADDING MACHINE is definitely dissonant and daring enough to be solidly in the “new music” camp. Beethoven’s exquisite descending thirds from his Moonlight Sonata make a brief appearance in Joshua Schmidt’s prologue but thereafter disharmony rules---except for a country western number and a mock spiritual from left field (or was that Elysian Fields?).
What works beautifully is Paul Melone’s fluid direction and Steven Bergman’s heroic mastery of the impossible score. SpeakEasy’s production team performs miracles, transforming Elmer Rice’s cautionary tale (of man and machine) into a visually stunning production. The actors/singers manage to absorb Schmidt and Jason Loewith’s characters into their very skin, making each “number” crackle with energy and suspense.
The SpeakEasy production bristles with innovation, from Susan Zeeman Rogers’ extraordinary set concept (with animal trough for lowly accountants) to Brendan McNabb’s pitiable cipher besieged by Amanda Broome, Liz Hayes, John Bambery and a remarkable chorus. If new music is your cup of tea, then SpeakEasy’s got your number.