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“The Machine; or, Greater than Zero, Less than One”

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Sharon, Yuval (American playwright, student, 1979-____), “The Machine; or, Greater than Zero, Less than One,”

a 20-minute horror black comedy in English, set in two apartments, late Thursday night, August, 1999,


 •  © 1999 by Yuval Sharon;  •  script/rights available from Yuval Sharon, 2150 Oxford Street, #75, Berkeley, California 94704, U.S.A., e-mail yuvster@yahoo.com, telephone (home) 510-548-4309.  •  Cited by Yuval Sharon, via ftp February 1, 2000; Sharon says,

 §  Dramatis Personae Michael (m), bewildered, complex young man whose world revolts against him; Graham (m), slick, vain older man with deep-rooted insecurities and confidence issues.

 §  Synopsis “(scene i) Michael and Graham, having met on the Internet, now awkwardly meet in person. As the two men become real to one another, the confused Michael calls his answering machine to discover an alienating, horrifying gurgling noise he doesn’t recognize. Terrified, he flees to his apartment to discover the source of the noise. (scene ii) Michael’s world turns surreal and revolts against him. Michael discovers painfully being at the mercy of machines, simply a character in a play lacking control over his own life. Forced by the terror of self-realization that he is an exile in his own apartment, he cowers and weeps in a corner.

 §  Comment “‘The Machine’ explores the invention of human personalities through machines with swift malevolence. Is there room for uncertainty in a world built on zeroes and ones? What happens in the gap between machines and humans? The play’s ambiguity, in both theme and form, is its dominant trait. One can approach the script from different angles—discovery of one’s sexuality, the pain of not knowing one’s identity, society’s blind trust in technology, metafictive relationship between an author and his characters. ‘The Machine’ as a play about the relation of humans to the objects around them benefits immensely from a stage cluttered with properties and technical equipment. A working answering machine is essential. While scene one is relatively straightforward, scene two requires a director interested in surrealism and the Theatre of Cruelty—with only two lines of dialogue, the director, for the play to work, must invest the scene with suspense, terror, and absolute uncertainty. The playwright staged a production that was justly received as gripping and unsettling. That production used music as an essential element, scene two being choreographed to Herbie Hancock’s ‘The Egg’ (from Empyrean Isles) with a snippet from the mad scene in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. These musical elements complemented the jazz and opera selections of scene one and essentially told the story. ‘The Machine’ offers a gleeful experience for a director and cast looking for a bizarre, haunting work that defies rational comprehension. There is one scene change.”

 §  Themes author-character relationship, cruelty, gay, homosexuality, invention of personalities, Pirandello (Luigi Pirandello, Italian playwright, Nobel laureate, 1867-1936), man versus machine, self-realization, sexuality, surrealism, technology, Théâtre du Grand Guignol, uncertainty.

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Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online


the more-extensive print volumes

1/2/3/4 for the Show: A Guide to Small-Cast One-Act Plays, Vols. 1 and 2

  (Lanham, Maryland, U.S.A.; Folkestone, Kent, U.K.: Scarecrow Press, 1995, 1999),

vol. 1 [1995] ISBN 0-8108-2985-1, vol. 2 [1999] ISBN 0-8108-3600-9

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