Two (brilliant) (female) friends revolutionize science and also bring the drama.
One of my favorite things is when Tara Williams and Tracy M. Schoster appear on stage together, acting opposite, especially when their characters have something interesting to say or do. So I was thrilled to learn that this Ted Weil-directed play would feature these two actresses sniping and supporting each other as friends and colleagues – straight from the history books.
Like many of Lauren Gunderson’s plays, “The Half-Life of Marie Curie” has copious amounts of science and history woven into the dialogue. A lot of people find that interesting. (I don’t.) But even if you’re like me, you will perk up about an hour into this ninety-minute production when Hertha Ayrton and Marie Curie get cross with one another.
Schoster (“Hertha”) and Williams (“Marie”) are both fierce and feisty women but in uniquely specific ways. They’re both incredibly warm human beings, but I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of either of them. Schoster is terrifyingly honest; Williams is a master of sarcasm. Together, I can’t think of a better duo to have as allies.
But what happens when they have conflict? Weil lets us see it through the lens of these two heavy-hitting scientists. His use of the space is elegant, with well-designed yet simple lighting elements and a soundscape that transports us where we need to be for each scene. The costumes by Beth Joos contrast each women’s personality; the more buttoned-up Curie vs. the “I don’t care what you think of me” Ayrton are displayed through their wardrobe.
Ultimately, the conflict is resolved, and the love these two have for one another carries them to the end of their lives. It’s touching seeing such female empowerment and friendship portrayed on stage – especially when you realize that the two actresses have a similar bond.
THE HALF-LIFE OF MARIE CURIE runs through October 8th. Click here for more information.