Paperback, 96 pages ISBN: 9781854592118Publication Date:
2 Dec 1993
Size: 198mm x 128mm£10.99 £8.79You save £2.20 (20%)
Ebook, 96 pages ISBN: 9781780013817Publication Date:
21 Aug 2014
£10.99 £8.79You save £2.20 (20%)
First Staged:
New York, 1928


By Sophie Treadwell

Paperback £10.99£8.79

Ebook £10.99£8.79

On Stage at:
Old Vic, London
From Thu 11 Apr 2024 to Sat 1 Jun 2024

A powerful expressionist drama from the 1920s about the dependent status of women in an increasingly mechanised society, based on the true story of Ruth Snyder.

Sophie Treadwell was a campaigning journalist in America between the wars. Among her assignments was the sensational murder involving Snyder, who with her lover, Judd Gray, had murdered her husband and gone to the electric chair.

'This is a play written in anger. In the dead wasteland of male society – it seems to ask – isn't it necessary for certain women, at least, to resort to murder?' - Nicholas Wright

Sophie Treadwell's play Machinal was first seen on Broadway in 1928, in London in 1930, and was later revived in the 1990s.

This edition of Machinal includes an introduction by Judith E. Barlow.

Extra Content: 'Treadwell holds the mirror up and says: "This is the world. Is this the way it should be?" I don't imagine that when she wrote it in 1928 she thought that it would have such resonance now.' Actors and directors who have worked on productions of Machinal – including Fiona Shaw, Lyndsey Turner and Natalie Abrahami – discuss the power and pertinence of Sophie Treadwell's extraordinary play, and why it deserves to be even more widely known. Read more in an article published in The Guardian, 7 June 2018.

Press Quotes

'Astonishing... a sort of infernal anxiety machine, percussive and remorseless, each hallucinatory scene immaculately crafted with its own distinct mood... the story feels sacred, mythological, foundational – a tale of one woman standing up to the system turned into a pulverising rapture'

Time Out (2024)

'A mind-bending, inexorable helter skelter into hell, surreal as a nightmare yet terrifyingly real'

The Stage (2024)

'Gripping... doesn't loosen its hold on the senses until its shattering climax'


'Stingingly fresh and provocative'

Time Out New York

'[A work of] rare and disturbing beauty'

New York Times

'Gaspingly intense... Machinal remains pretty extraordinary stuff... [Treadwell's] spare, percussive language frequently feels like it could have been written yesterday'

Time Out

'A dazzling piece of work... Machinal, written in 1928, has lost none of its cold fury, its expressionistic power to depict a woman trapped by a society that expects her to marry and conform. It is astonishingly modern'


'An unforgettable portrait of a particular woman and of America itself as a hellishly dehumanised assembly line'


'Feels strikingly modern: its sharp, splintered depiction of a young woman breaking apart in a dehumanising, mechanised world could have been written yesterday… an eloquent and groundbreaking play'

Financial Times

'Machinal was decades ahead of its time and still feels astonishingly, and depressingly, pertinent'

Radio Times

'Captivating, intense and resonant... a fascinating piece, a formally bold and explicitly feminist study of an ordinary woman who snaps under societal pressure... demonstrates Treadwell’s adventurousness as a playwright'

The Stage

'A remarkably dark portrait of mental torment [with] striking moments of dark comedy... Machinal has lost none of its potency'

Paperback,96 pages ISBN: 9781854592118Publication Date:
2 Dec 1993
Size: 198mm x 128mm£10.99 £8.79You save £2.20 (20%)
Ebook,96 pages ISBN: 9781780013817Publication Date:
21 Aug 2014
£10.99 £8.79You save £2.20 (20%)

Also by Sophie Treadwell:


Go to author page...

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