Photo courtesy of CPH Department of Theatre, Music, and Dance | Grace, Tom, Madame Curie, and Mr. and Mrs. Roeder.

Radium Girls spins gold out of straw


by Alana Hackman

When I discovered that the spring play would be Radium Girls, I was ecstatic. I had previous historical knowledge of the event and the TV show, but was unaware there was a play. The play was a meaty one at nearly three hours, but had impressive delivery by the all-student cast for such an emotionally charged story.

The Theatre Department put on quite a well-organized performance, considering the main cast was only eight people. Each actor aside from the main protagonist, Grace, (played by Sophia Escudero) were playing up to four characters each. 

One could look at the small cast, lack of props and scene changes as a dealbreaker for the production, but it only impressed me more. Cast members being involved in all of the moving parts is what really made Radium Girls so charming and applaudable. A majority of the scene changes were led by the cast members immediately after delivering lines. 

There were no closed curtains and very few techies were spotted on the wings or stage throughout the show. The lack of props on the stage during most of the scenes really forced the audience to focus their attention on the actors’ performance. It seemed to me the cast and crew were able to work with what they had and still deliver a killer performance. 

Krystie Obiso and Izzy Waring stood out to me the most with their performances. 

With Obiso playing the parts of Irene, Miss Wiley, Board Member #2, and Mrs. Michaels, she put a firecracker spirit into every character portrayed. From her impressive transatlantic accents and strong emotional outbursts, she really had an enchanting stage presence even when playing side characters. 

Waring also played a handful of characters including Mrs. Roeder, Madame Curie, Customer, and Board Member #3. Her performance as Mrs. Roeder is what wowed me the most; Waring’s ability to deliver such emotional anguish and distress of a wife discovering her husband’s negligence following the truth of radium’s negative health effects was not something I expected to see in a college play. 

Obiso and Waring’s delivery really set the emotional ambiance of each scene and of Radium Girls as a whole. They really pushed the theme of women’s pain and truth being overlooked throughout history. 

The set design was also very professional and clean looking. It had a lot of technical parts to really get an emotional reaction out of the audience, but was still simple. From the city skyline physically “closing in” to symbolize the truth about radium, as well as the white screen used as screen to play with light and impose the feeling of ‘time running out’ throughout the show. 

I will say the one critique I had during my time as an audience member was the lack of microphones. I wasn’t able to tell if any of the actors were wearing mic packs and had a hard time hearing some of the dialogue, especially during what seemed to be vital conversations within the storyline, like the scenes between Grace and her mother. Same with stage blocking; sometimes a cast member would turn their back and be completely muffled out from the audience. This made following some of the intense dialogue on stage a bit harder, especially when accents came into play.

When it comes to such a detailed and long play, I do wish the actors were mic’d up to make it a bit easier to follow. I can assume that the cast and crew were working with a tighter budget for this production, but it didn’t stop them from executing a successful opening night.

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