Elmer Rice's bleak 1923 play was adapted into a musical in 2007. I was impressed with how much humor the work mined while remaining true to the source material. I was also saddened by how timely the themes of destructive capitalism and social alienation remained.
Musical theater protagonists often strive to rewrite their fate, but Mr. Zero seems resigned to his. His most drastic actions occur when change is forced upon him. Rice asks whether Mr. Zero is a victim of society or a willing participant in a corrupt system.
*** Spoiler **** There are a lot of musicals about murderers aren't there? Shortly after watching a production of Adding Machine I listened to the cast album of Duncan Sheik's American Psycho Musical. While Patrick Bateman has reached a level of wealth Mr. Zero could only dream of they are both slowly dying inside. This causes them to make very bad decisions.