By Cory Davis
Genesis Theatrical Productions presents Shirley Lauro's The Radiant, which chronicles the journey of Madame Marie Curie as she simultaneously discovers radium and engages in a solicitous affair with her young, married assistant. Set one hundred years ago in Paris, the play focuses primarily on her affair without providing a clear picture of her discoveries and zest for science, which are—after all—why she garnered two Nobel prizes, and became an enormous contributor to cancer research.
While the play embraces the complexity of the Curie’s life, it would have been interesting to see more of Madame Curie in the lab. Displaying Curie engaging is scientific research and discovery would have enhanced the play’s feminist appeal. The production is brimming with talent and each character was cast appropriately for their role. The antithesis of Chloe Dzielak’s wide-eyed youthful energy and Debbie Ruzicka’s stoic skepticism adds levels of tension and high stakes to each scene. For the most part, the cast maneuvers the French dialect well—an added challenge as Michael Lomenick enters as Lord Kelvyn from Scotland halfway through the play. At times, the play felt like a static drawing room piece—likely because the characters stayed in the same kinesphere in each scene. The transitions, however, were dynamic thanks to set and props designer Harrison Ornelas. Throughout the play, the actors moved wooden pillars around to build each location in a way that was both visually appealing and functional for the plot and setting. Though The Radiant falls flat at times, those with a particular interest in French culture with bit of scandal and science thrown in may consider the $32 admission worth the price.
The Radiant runs through June 11 at the Athenaeum Theater. More info.