Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor
Based on true events from the 1920s, “Radium Girls,” directed by Don Mays, follows three young ladies who painted radium on watch and clock dials. Unbeknownst to them, they were exposed to fatal and damaging radiation poisoning. The factories they worked for knew of this. And yet, they refused to admit it to maintain their reputation. Grace Fryer, one of many victims, decides to take a stand and challenge the very company that endangered her life and many others.
I never knew about this story beforehand. I believed it was a story about female empowerment and women’s civil rights. Surprisingly enough, it ran deeper than that. It was about the U.S. Radium Corporation that failed to protect its workers for the sake of profit. It was about a young woman’s struggle to gain control of her life while being barred with lies and deception. It was about misinformation putting the lives of innocents at health risk. Lastly, it was also about the potential dangers in a workplace, and the importance of ensuring the safety of those affected.
All the actors played their parts with just enough energy to display it on the stage. They showed dedication in bringing the characters to life. Many standouts such as Reegan Camire, Matthew Macy, Christopher DePina and Derek Rivera made their acting known for all to see with clarity and purpose. However, I have to give credit where credit is due to the main lead: Mackenzie Richard. She did a great job in conveying the plight of Fryer without laying it on thick. She offered the right emotions that anybody would have if they were in her tragic predicament. Richard made her voice heard without feeling the need to outshine anyone else, and that’s all you need as an aspiring actress.
Radium Girls reminds us that the problems Grace and her friends face are still relevant today. Even now, we have diligent laborers unable to speak up against the unfairness of a chaotic workplace simply because they need the money. We have companies that are far more concerned with keeping the business afloat by any means necessary. And for the most part, the severe consequences arise when it’s too little too late to resolve it. The most scathing part about this whole story: all of this could’ve been prevented. Fryer, Irene Rudolph and Kathryn Schaub had to work when they were barely out of high school. They had so much to live for. And yet, their bright futures were shattered, all because of a company that ultimately failed them.
However, if we are to make jobs better for others or become an effective leader in a franchise, we have to be mindful of what happens and what comes after. We need to treat our employees with equality and respect. And most importantly, we have to be well-informed of what we put in our bodies.
If you’re a student at RIC or curious about theater, Radium Girls is an engaging yet poignant experience that will stay with you for quite some time.