This unusual play is about a crew working to repair a water pump that cools an unspecified “electric machine.” The workers, with nicknames like Peaches, Cool Daddy and Hi Volt, talk among themselves while they work. The job goes well, they eat hot dogs, and the curtain comes down.
Despite being quite short, Inside the Giant Electric Machine has many structural problems. The stage direction sometimes overwhelms the dialogue and includes personal asides, such as, “I think it’s time for a break.” Whether that’s a break from repairing the machine or writing the play isn’t clear.
The dialogue is stiff and odd. Would people working at a job say, “Yes, that’s a critical measurement for positioning the shaft components when it’s time to put things back together”? Nobody’s being trained on the job, yet everything is over-explained for the audience’s benefit. Additionally, good grammar and correct spelling are in short supply.
To make this an enjoyable play, author John Guiliano also needed more conflict, or at least a few lag bolts left unattended for a character to slip on, because little happens. In some ways it seems more like an instructional video, though it would fall short there, too, because it doesn’t outline the parts and repair procedures clearly enough for anyone to follow it.
This stage direction illustrates the basic problems: “ROPEY AND PEACHES ARE IN THE PROCESS OF ALLIGNEING [sic] THE GIANT COOLING PUMP WITH THE GIANT ELECTRIC MOTOR. In this case as in most, you always align the driver to the driven. And no soft foot!” This might make sense to someone, but a director would likely struggle bringing it to life, leaving an audience in the dark. If Guiliano rewrites this play, job one is figuring out the intended audience and what is expected of them. Then he can tailor the work to suit that purpose.
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