"William E. Emba"|
This highly symbolic play tells the life, death, afterlife, and
rebirth of Zero, a mild-mannered nobody who is hoping to get a raise
for twenty five years of loyal service as a clerk doing addition for
his employer. Instead, he is to be replaced by an uneducated girl
using an adding machine.
Also in the cast are his wife, Mrs Zero, and their friends, Mr and
Mrs One through Six. Their friends Mr and Mrs Seven through Twelve
are mentioned in the dialogue. Literary balance, of sorts, is
provided by a character named Shrdlu, of "Etaoin Shrdlu" fame.
Mathematical content is mostly limited to the blatant (and effective)
symbolism of treating people as mere numbers, and business as simply
so much addition. Also, Zero is something of an arithmomaniac, given
to turning mentions of numbers into obsessive bouts of addition, which
he quickly suppresses.
This play was originally produced/published in seven scenes, with a
deleted eighth scene (Zero's death) restored in revival/republication.
The missing scene has no mathematical content.