“Radium Girls” is a story, by D.W. Gregory, depicting a series of events, which actually took place early in the 20th century. The U.S. Radium Corporation, employed women, often girls in their teens, to paint dials of watches, with a radium compound, so they could be seen at night. These watches were intended for U.S. troops who always needed to know the time, even in the dark. How these young girls became sick, how they tried to take their company to task for this, and how the history of workers’ rights and protections was changed, is of huge interest to anyone who wants to understand how employer-employee relations of today were influenced.
Noelle Warnement portrays Grace Fryer, a fifteen-year-old girl who has dropped out of school, to help support her parents. She begins to see her co-workers, her friends, becoming sick. Dying. She believes that the radioactive radium they paint is causing the sickness. She takes USRC to court to obtain satisfaction. “Ellie”, the product of two parents, both superb actors, has appeared at her school, as well as many Encore productions. She is everything Grace needs to be. In the end, she shows the strength, vulnerability, and wisdom needed to make the story work.
John Slechter is Arthur Roeder, the plant manager. His goal is to make profits for the company. His mind will not allow him to believe the rash of illnesses and deaths are related to his plant. Slechter shows us a complicated man, torn by the honesty he attempts to circumvent, to save his company. His scenes with Roeder’s wife Diane,(Kim Warnecke) literally burst with angst and pathos. At times, one actually feels for this guy. Slechter, a long-time Encore vet, was a good choice for this role. We see a human, not a monster.
There are too many others, too many sweet performances, to list them all. But there were terrific performances, by all, along the way. I was transfixed by the happenings, hanging on my seat. Director Missy Keller has given us a show with many, many scenes, which must interconnect, in a seamless manner, with actors who not only make their parts shine, but also move props and set dressings in-between the scenes. A very huge part of the process. It was a fabulous evening, with a very sad story, which end in a somewhat satisfactory and pleasing manner.
Why you should attend “Radium Girls”:
This is our history. Sometimes we must endure the sadness to see why we do what we do, today.
Encore always entertains and enlightens. This production is no exception.
The acting and tech work is seamless and engaging.
Your knowledge of our history will be enriched.
Like me, you will be on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen, next.
There are three more times you can see this great performance. Tonight, March 4, 2022, and Saturday this week, at 8 PM. 2 PM Matinee on Sunday, March 6, 2022.
Call for tickets at 419-223-8866.