Dynamo (play)
Dynamo is a play
Play (theatre)
A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

 in three acts written by Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish...

 in 1929, each act is composed of three scenes.

Production history

The play, starring Glenn Anders and Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert was a French-born American-based actress of stage and film.Born in Paris, France and raised in New York City, Colbert began her career in Broadway productions during the 1920s, progressing to film with the advent of talking pictures...

, opened on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

on February 11, 1929 and closed in March, after 50 performances. The play was considered a failure for O'Neill, whose other plays of the 1920s played for much longer runs, and the play is rarely revived.


The characters comprise two families and one extra:
  • Reverend Hutchins Light
  • Amelia, his wife, and
  • Reuben, their son

Who live next door to:
  • Ramsay Fife, superintendent of a hydro-electric plant (and staunch atheist)
  • May, his wife
  • Ada, their daughter.

Jennings, who does not appear until the final act, is an operator at the plant.

In the first act, O'Neill establishes a conflict between the Lights and the Fifes that is marked by their religious differences and has soured into personal hatred. Reuben, however, loves Ada. And Ada, described as a flapper or 'modern woman,' likes Reuben enough to run around with him, but teases him for being weak. Throughout the play, however, she affectionately calls him "Rube," which means 'dunce.'

The Lights are superstitious and shudder at lightning. On a stormy night, Fife tricks Reuben and his father into falling for a joke because they hadn't read the newspaper.

Angry at having been fooled, Reuben runs away from home. He only corresponds with his parents by sending mocking postcards that he has electrocuted their god. When he does return, he is stronger, colder, and sharply rational. He ravages Ada unemotionally and repeatedly claims that electricity is the god of everything.

Upon returning home, he is distraught to learn that his mother had died just before he arrived. Guilty and somewhat disillusioned, he turns to the dynamos in the hydro-electric plant for answers. He sees them as motherly, and tries to get them to forgive him. Eventually, he brings Ada to the dynamos to convert her. When he feels the dynamos have rejected her (remembering that his own mother called Ada a harlot) he shoots Ada, climbs up to the dynamo's brushes, and electrocutes himself. The play closes in Mrs. Fife's helpless expression of distress at the dynamo's treatment of them all.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.