SACRED FOOLS | MAINSTAGE 1999 - The Adding Machine

Revival Production of the Year (of a 20th-Century Work)
1999 LA Weekly Theater Awards

5 1999 LA Weekly Award Nominations!
Revival Production of the Year (of a 20th-Century Work)
Direction, Lauren Hollingsworth
Leading Male Performance, Craig Mathers
Supporting Male Performance, Jeff Goldman

Backstage West Garland Award 1999
(Honorable Mention)

Lighting Design, Bryan Schulte

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By Elmer Rice
Directed by Lauren Hollingsworth
Produced by Rik Keller
July 29, 1999 - August 28, 1999

award_trophy2.gif (893 bytes)BEST DIRECTOR
Lauren Hollingsworth

Also Nominated...
(Smaller Theater)

(Smaller Theater)
Brian Schulte

Read the Reviews! Read The Reviews Production Photos!See Some Photos


Co-Producer - Marc Alvarado
Stage Manager - Aldrich Allen
Assistant Director: Bruno Oliver
Scenic Design by Stacie B. London
Lighting Design by Bryan Schulte
Costume Design by Nicole Thomas
Assistant Costumer - Mary Hayes
Sound Design by Drew Dalzell
Choreography by Pogo Saito
Assistant Choreographer - Mark TJ Lifrieri
Props by Bil Garrity

Light Board Operator - Samantha Eve Drecksler
Sound Board Operator(s) - Tara-Beth Connoly, David Moore
Panel Rigging/Welding - West EFX, Erick C. Brennen, James Robinson,
Chris Jones, Garnett Baril
Carpenter - Scott Johnson
Publicity - Philip Sokoloff
Photography - David Baron



Sexual harassment, racism, job-site murder, corporate downsizing - they all seem plucked from today's headlines. Yet these "topical" issues, and others, eerily resonate throughout Elmer Rice's prescient 1923 expressionist classic, in a splendid mounting by director Lauren Hollingsworth for Sacred Fools Theater Company. Meet Mr. Zero (played with appropriate faux toughness by Craig Mathers), a store receipt-cruncher of 25 years, who, having just been informed that he will shortly be replaced by a machine, goes postal and murders his boss. Zero's subsequent imprisonment (a strange, involving moment in which Zero is treated like an attraction at a zoo), trial and execution aren't the end of the saga, however. He ventures into the afterlife, encountering other dead souls, including a co-worker (Amy Jones) for whom he had the hots. Zero also learns some unpleasant truths about himself, as well as the disconcerting news that he must return to Earth to do it all over again. Call it the reincarnation treadmill. In a lesser director's hands, all this could easily implode into didactic tedium, but Hollingsworth's inventive, well-focused staging not only sustains but embellishes upon the piece's harsh, satirical wit. Stacie London's bleak, gray set pieces are simple yet perfect complements.

-Lovell Estell III


The winner of the Worst Karma of 1923 award goes to the number-crunching shlub of Elmer Rice's play "The Adding Machine."   Rice's Expressionist study, which retains surprising wit and potency in director Lauren Hollingsworth's Sacred Fools Theater Company staging, follows the emblematic Mr. Zero. He lives the drone's life, 25 years' worth of "adding figures and waiting for 5:30."  At work, Zero (Craig Mathers) entertains lovesick daydreams about his co-worker, Daisy Diana Dorothea Devore (Amy Jones). Then Zero gets the boot--replaced by a machine. He retaliates by killing his boss. After his own trial and execution, he shoots up to heaven, where in the Elysian Fields, having reunited with his (now dead) co-worker Daisy, Zero proves the same unreflective schmo he was on Earth.  By 1923, American playwrights had gleaned a few things from German theater, the primary source of theatrical Expressionism and its distortional techniques. Mr. Zero belongs to a long line of characters ensnared by the machine age, as well as his own rash and futile actions. More intriguingly, Rice's protagonist is a blood relative of various small-minded American Babbitts, mindful of appearances, racist, anti-labor, conformity-plus. Even in heaven, Mr. Zero can't shake his old hang-ups about respectability.  We're inside a suffocating character's head throughout "The Adding Machine."  Director Hollingsworth works well with choreographer Pogo Saito and her designers to create a cold gray universe on a budget. Zero is connected, literally, via conveyor belt to his beloved co-worker. Around them, minions glide by, walking at half-speed.  In a graveyard way-station en route to heaven, Zero chats up a fellow deceased murderer, played by Jeff Goldman. Goldman's an exceptional hysteric, reminiscent of Gene Wilder; he knows how to make anxiety funny.  Throughout, Hollingsworth doesn't over- or under-stress the distorted atmospherics. She has an eye, but she also makes room for her better actors, chief among them Mathers, Goldman and, in bit parts, sleek, born-for-film-noir sensualist Piper Henry.   There's a lot going on in the best of the '20s dreamscapes, as Michael Greif's recent New York production of the 1928 "Machinal" revealed. Even with some routine acting, the Sacred Fools rendition of "The Adding Machine" works. Together, the material and the production illustrate the life of a guy whose enemy isn't the machine; it's his own underfed imagination.

- Michael Phillips
Times Theater Critic


What's black and white and gray all over? Why, the soul-stunning, worker-bee world of the aptly named number cruncher, Mr. Zero, that's what. Zero is the exasperated anti-hero of The Adding Machine, Elmer Rice's darkly comic 1923 forecast of the dangers of a mechanized, dehumanized society, which remains amazingly relevant as we reach the dawn of a new millennium.

Cleanly directed by Lauren Hollingsworth, this provocative production is ably complimented by Nicole Thomas' uniform but stylized costumes; the choreographed movements of Pogo Saito (who also plays Mrs. Six); Stacie B. London's flat-faced, monochromatic scenic design, starkly lit by Bryan Schulte, and the assembly line mutterings of Drew Dalzell's sound. Hollingsworth's average-to-above-average-level cast is led by a trio of potent performers (Craig Mathers, Amy Jones, and Jeff Goldblum), and by her directorial underscoring of the script's humor, which helps to illustrate the point while not depriving us of the full impact of a mind-numbing, by-the-numbers lifestyle.

A spineless schmuck who's been on the job for 25 years, Zero (Mathers, who walks confidently and crazily right on the edge) cannot stand up for himself. Whether it's the constant haranguing of his harpy wife (M.E. Dunn) or going seven years without a raise, Zero just grimaces, swallows his rage, and gets up the next day to don the same black-and-white suit and carry the same black-and-white perspective into the same dull gray office (where he's never missed a day) and then go back home to the same dull gray wife and house.

When Zero is told he's being replaced by an adding machine that can do his job more efficiently, more accurately, in less time and at a lower cost, he goes berserk and shoots his boss. A trial, an execution, and a trip to the heavenly Elysian Fields soon follow, where Zero is befriended by a distraught fellow with anxiety problems (a hilariously intense Goldblum), maybe because he murdered his mother.
But Zero's dismal point of view doesn't allow him to accept forgiveness or enjoy pleasures he missed on earth-including the affections of his now deceased co-worker, Miss Daisy Diana Dorothea Devore (the lovely, light, and airy Jones), who committed suicide just to be with him. With his rigid, close-minded attitude, Zero learns-you guessed it-zip about himself. When he makes the startling discovery that, like a cosmic conveyor belt between the spiritual and earthly worlds, reincarnation really exists, and, like it or not, he's gotta go back, Zero's unwillingness to relax, open up, and learn even a little bit from his experiences guarantees his next time around won't be much different from the last-the same black-and-white p.o.v. in the same kind of dull gray office, surrounded by the same kind of dull gray people, and so on and so on ad infinitum.

- Terri Roberts


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Craig Mathers as Mr. Zero

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Mr. Zero and M.E. Dunn as Mrs. Zero
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The Men (L - R)

Scott McShane Corey Klemow Al Vicente
Haynes Brooke Mark TJ Lifrieri Joe Gold
The Women (L - R)
Jessie Marion Diana Kyle Jennifer Wu
Piper Henry Timbre Henning Pogo Saito

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Mr. Zero and Shrdlu (Jeff Goldman)

Amy Jones as Daisy Diana Dorothea Devore and Mr. Zero
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Special Thanks to Corey Klemow's Dad for the digital pics
- Kato