Marie Curie ★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Jun 1 - Jul 28, 2024

A Polish immigrant who comes to a new country and makes her way to the top echelon of the male-dominated world of science. A discoverer of two elements and a double Nobel Prize winner. There are many dramatic elements to Marie Skłodowska-Curie's story, plus there is the morally complex question of how scientific discoveries may not only bring benefits, but can also have serious downsides. Curie's discovery of radium with its positive potential, and now obvious dangers, recalls some of the thorny ethical issues considered in the recent science-centred film Oppenheimer. However, while this musical touches on several interesting themes, none of them seem fully developed. This may be simply a limitation of the genre, and perhaps, a musical is not the most effective way of presenting Marie Curie's thought-provoking story. A song celebrating the 'Radium Paradise' actually comes across as considerably more ironic than intended. That said, this evening certainly does have some highlights. As the dedicated and determined female physicist, Ailsa Davidson displays a compelling voice and puts in a completely convincing performance. Her steely resolution is quite palpable and her vocals soar to the heights of her ambition. The contrast of her journey with that of her friend and fellow immigrant played by Chrissie Bhima works well and brings into focus the emotional and intellectual dilemma faced by Curie. The pair's Act II duet "You Are The Reason" proves to be a moving culmination of the evening. In contrast, the men in Curie's life seem to get short shrift. Thomas Josling's Pierre Curie comes across as rather insipid, and Richard Meek's morally ambiguous Ruben DeLong could have been more interestingly developed. Despite such caveats, however, Marie Curie the musical does explore some interesting territory and discovers considerable drama in the life of this pioneering female scientist.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Pamela Raith

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