THE HALF-LIFE OF MARIE CURIE – Written by Lauren Gunderson; Directed by Sarah Sheppard Shaver. Produced by Theatre Silco (460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne) through August 20. Tickets available at 970-513-9386 or thesilco.org.
Early in the production, Hertha explains her contribution to creating a quiet, flicker-free light bulb. At the end, as she calls attention to the quiet non-flickering lights in the theatre, she proclaims, “That’s the sound of a good idea!” Casting Emma Messenger in this role is also the sound of a good idea. Miss Emma Messenger (always Miss Emma as a sign of respect, but she is one of the most happily married persons I know) is one of the finest actresses in Colorado. With her stage partner, Claire Kennedy, playing Marie Curie, they make theatre magic in Silverthorne in this delightful thoughtful show about the supportive friendship between two female scientists. Together, they face media shame, misogyny, sexism, widowhood, single motherhood, and the loss of significance in their work environment. With shoulders held high, they comfort, support, argue, drink, plan revenge, and laugh at the silliness of it all. When you have a friend like that, you do everything you can to hang on to them.
This is not to say that these strong independent women do not have flaws, that they do not make mistakes. Marie’s fascination with radium creates a problem for Hertha that leads to a monumental argument. Like true friends, they work their way through. As a matter of fact, the reconciliation leads to one of the funniest drunk scenes to have taken place on stage in a long time. Both women are perfectly cast and work in tandem on stage to tell this fascinating story.
One amazing scene takes place underwater when Marie dives into the ocean. The combination of a projected water scene on the back wall and oceanic sound effects creates a truly beautiful meditation on life choices.
In a later scene, Marie explains what happened at the ceremony awarding her an unprecedented second Nobel Prize in 1911. Because of the scandal surrounding her personal life, she was asked not to attend. The illustrious male scientists didn’t want to be in the same room with her. Her response: “It’s an affair, gentleman. It’s not contagious.”
The welcoming Theatre Silco is a fun place to experience theatre with its three theaters and spacious lobby. This production is a fine example of the quality of work that can be expected at this theatre. The surefooted direction by Director Sarah Sheppard Shaver and the support of an excellent technical crew promises a thrilling visual experience.
A WOW factor of 9!!