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The Adding Machine is a 1923 play by Elmer Rice, and is generally considered to be the first American Expressionist play. The story focuses on Mr. Zero, an accountant at a large, faceless company. After 25 years at his job, he discovers that he will be replaced by an adding machine. In anger and pain, he snaps and kills his boss. He is then tried for murder and is found guilty. He is then hanged and wakes up in an almost heaven-like setting known as "The Elysian Fields." Mr. Zero then begins to operate an adding machine, until Lieutenant Charles, the boss of the Elysian Fields, comes to tell Zero that he is a waste of space and his soul is going to be sent back to the earth to be reused. The play ends with Zero following a very attractive girl named Hope off stage, who might not actually exist.

The play was an influence on the Tennessee Williams play Stairs to the Roof. Years later, it was adapted into a 1969 film of the same name, written and directed by Jerome Epstein and starring Milo O'Shea, Phyllis Diller, Billie Whitelaw and Sydney Chaplin.

Musical adaptation

In 2007, the play was adapted into a musical entitled Adding Machine with a score by Joshua Schmidt and book by Jason Loewith and Schmidt. The musical debuted in Illinois at the Next Theatre Company in 2007. It then opened Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre on February 25, 2008, after previews that started February 8.[1]


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