Saturday, July 13

Marie Curie – Charing Cross Theatre

A woman scientist!? The woman scientist. Marie Curie, a new musical written by Seeun Choun and Jongyoon Choi fleshes out the story of a scientific pioneer who put her own body on the line in order to secure both a scientific and feminist legacy. Whether or not this was her intention or merely a by-product of her inexhaustible efforts to unearth more information about radioactivity is not a question this play entirely answers over the course of its approximately hour and forty minute run time. Narrated by Marie (Alisa Davidson) but seen from the hazy imagined perspective of her daughter Irène Curie (Lucy Young) this play is very much concerned with the legacies passed between mothers and daughters and the value of role models.

With English lyrics, new musical arrangements and musical direction by Emma Fraser and an English book adaptation by Tom Ramsay this production’s origins can nonetheless be discerned from many of the artistic choices made by director Sarah Meadows and evident particularly in the set design by Rose Montgomery. The show is more informational than visual spectacle and its costume design is suitably simple and effective both in evoking the appropriate historical period and communicating the role of class in this context.

Photo: Pamela Raith Photography

Both lighting and projections choices made over the course of the production tend more distracting than they do illuminating and there are a few moments in the production where the combination of visual and literal noise is so dense it fails to communicate anything. In its quieter moments though the sincerity of its writers shines through and it is a shame that essential emotional moments such as the foundation of Marie’s friendship with Anne Kowalska (Chrissie Bhima) and her courtship with future husband Pierre Curie (Thomas Josling) are merely hinted at in introductory scenes but then relegated to montage (the Curies’ first kiss is separated from the birth of their daughter by a mere fraction of a second of mime) or simply implied by chronological reference in the case of Anne whose second scene with Marie comes with her apparently annual cake delivery. The neglect of these fundamental relationships in favour of the inclusion of multiple songs about the chemical element, radium, both illustrate and undermine the tragedy of Curie’s life.

Playing until 28th July,

Reviewer: Kira Daniels

Reviewed: 7th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.