Review: The Half-Life of Marie Curie at Oly Theater

by Lynette Charters Serembe

Paige Doyle as Marie Curie

Make sure you see Theater Arts Olympia’s truly intriguing production of The Half-Life of Marie Curie at Oly Theater, directed by the multitalented pug Bujeaud.

Marie Curie is one of the few women scientists who made it into the history books and is a household name. The reason being that they couldn’t ignore her. This Polish-French physicist and chemist won the Nobel Peace Prize twice for her discoveries in radioactivity, used today for medical imaging and cancer treatments among other things.

Her friend is Hertha Ayrton, who was a British engineer, mathematician, physicist, and inventor, who worked on electric arcs (and is the reason why our old lightbulbs didn’t hiss). Even though she fought hard for women scientists to be given credit for their achievements, she somehow never made it into most history books. It leaves us wondering how history will report women in the future.

The play starts at a very stressful point in Marie Curie’s life when Ayrton, who is a staunch and fearless suffragist, swoops in to rescue her friend. They rejoice in each other’s fortitude and accomplishments, share pride in parenting their children, and laugh at the ridiculousness of being stuck in a system which is very happy to profit from their achievements, but praise is conditional and withheld because of social constraints designed to keep women in their place.

Impeccably written by Lauren Gunderson, who is America’s most produced living playwright, we are taken on this journey of struggle and triumph. Paige Doyle as Curie and Heather Christopher as Ayrton are both extremely strong actors. They very skillfully, with confidence, prowess, and not a small amount of humor, lead you through the story of these historically significant women’s friendship; scenes get very tense at times and suddenly diffused by their intelligent wit.

Curie and Ayrton endured strife and injustice in a Victorian system which very much favored and benefitted men. Holding on to their convictions they remind themselves of what is important, take the high ground and move on to heroic levels. Sound familiar? It’s an old story that is still relevant today.

Left to right: Heather Christopher and Paige Doyle

Take your teens, take your mom, heck, take the whole family (given the adult content). We owe it to our daughters and our sons to hear their story.  

Oly Theater is a new 65-seat black box theater in The Capital Mall currently home to three theater companies which are Theater Artists Olympia, Broadway Olympia Productions, and Juice Box Theater, which will present The Little Red Hen, written and directed by Kate Ayers for children 3-5 years old.

The Half-Life of Marie Curie

7:30 p.m., May 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27, 2 p.m. May 14, 21, 28

Oly Theater at BOP performance space, 625 Black Lake Blvd. Olympia, WA
Capital Mall, Olympia



Skip to content