*Selected to tour to the Kennedy Center American College Region II Festival in January of 2015


True to his number Mr. Zero is the lowest rung on the ladder.  A true anti-hero, he is a racist, uneducated and maddeningly unaware.  He blames everyone else for his problems and never takes responsibility for himself or his actions.

Zero goes through life on automatic pilot.  He has no imagination, he doesn't question anything or anyone and he does the same meaningless job, day in and day out for 25 years.  Sadly, but also significantly, his first noticeable moment is the murder of his boss, an unusually spontaneous action which occurs after he is fired.  Like more of us than would care to admit it, Zero allows society to think for him.  He cares more about how he appears to others, rather than his personal self-growth.  He takes actions for granted, looking for a formulaic understanding of right and wrong rather than questioning the underlying motivations behind those actions.

In other words, Zero is Everyman.  He is the foundation upon which everything else is built.  He exists in every one of us.  Elmer Rice's numerical metaphor is very revealing:  The number zero sits between the negatives and positives, a very powerful position mathematically.  Like a coin teetering between heads and tails, Zero has the ability to make a choice.  The fact that he continually chooses wrongly is an element of comedy and also a reflection of the cynicism that Rice had with regard to human nature.  Zero's inability, literally, to think outside the box, beyond the social and cultural mores of the society in which he lives, and ultimately beyond his fear of how people will judge him, are at the center of this Expressionistic classic.