After 25 years of monotonously crunching numbers in a sunless, cramped office, Mr. Zero, who is expecting a promotion, is flightily dismissed from his dead-end job. Shocked and enraged, he murders his boss.
It sounds like an outlandish headline from any tabloid you’d see checking out at the grocery store, doesn’t it? Sorry to disappoint, but Mr. Zero’s story goes all the way back to the 1923 play by Elmer Rice entitled “The Adding Machine.”
Elmer Rice’s play, The Adding Machine, has been adapted into a musical produced by SpeakEasy Stage Company, directed by Paul Melone with original music by Joshua Schmidt and libretto by Jason Loewith and Joshua Schmidt.
In the first scene, the stage is virtually baron, consisting of just a metal-framed bed and two vacant wooden chairs. Zero arrives home from work, peaked, staring blankly at the floor as his wife attacks him—in song form.
Immediately you are uncomfortably thrust into the deteriorating relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Zero, forced to watch their bickering. In “Something To Be Proud Of” Mrs. Zero is pecking at her husband, cruelly stating “I was a fool for marrying you” in a shrill cry. As she gripes, her hand cuts through the air tense at her side up to her cheek demanding a kiss before he leaves for work, and he subserviently complies face unchanging. Her housewife-gone-wild screeching combined with his stoic face looked like an incident of domestic violence just waiting to happen.