A Review of Liberty Theater Workshops Radium Girls

A Review of Liberty Theater Workshop’s Radium Girls



Photo Credits : Ellie Duncan ’25

Play Rating : A-

Background – Radium is a shiny radioactive metal that was in high demand during the early 1900s. In 1925, it was discovered that radium (in high amounts of exposure) was cancer-causing and extremely lethal. Prior to that discovery, thousands of young women were employed as factory workers to paint radium watch dials. The workers mixed their own paint; combining radium dust with other substances. They were advised to put the brush in their mouth before painting the dials, often ingesting the radioactive metal along the way. Suspicion grew when workers began coughing up blood, losing teeth, and becoming sick. Around 50 women developed miserable radiation side effects leading to their eventual deaths. Many other workers suffered side effects. Eventually, the lack of safety guidelines in the factories was exposed. It spiraled the movement across America to apply stricter safety guidelines to protect workers. 

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Two weekends ago, from October 6th-8th, Olentangy Liberty took the stage for their first play of the year, “Radium Girls”. It was captivating, funny and at times heart-wrenching. The play, written in 2000 by D.W. Gregory was very successfully carried out by Olentangy Liberty. 

There was a flawless display of character development from the lead protagonist Vanessa Adams, who plays Grace Fryer. Most actors had multiple roles to juggle and at times their two or more characters got hard to differentiate. With Adams, though, Grace Fryer was her lone role and it helped her turn in a very strong performance. The same went for Arthur Roeder (Mikey Tripodi) and Kathryn Schuab (Jillian Christie), who were both compelling in their respective roles. Roeder is the hard-nosed businessman who is the lead antagonist in this story; Tripodi did a fantastic job portraying Roeder as somebody who did not want to face the issues his radium brought up, but who was also not a bad person at heart. Roeder did what he did to protect his family and what he believed was correct, but at the end of the story he feels intense remorse for what ultimately happened. Schuab is the closest friend of Grace Fryer, she has a few emotional scenes in this play which Christie aces with ease. She had an excellent display of her acting chops in this play and was easily one of the brightest spots. 



Although everyone did spectacular, my favorite character was either Tom Krieder (Braxton Im) or Irene Rudolph (Keltsy Hunter). Tom Krieder is Grace’s fiance who loves her throughout her deteriorating conditions, he challenges her decisions a few times but it is all out of his care for her. Im does the most accurate New Jersey accent by anyone in the cast and his on point timing created some of the funniest scenes in the play. The character of Tom Krieder does not have much complexity, making him one of the easier characters to watch. Irene Rudolph is Grace and Kathryn’s friend who works in the factories with them. Irene is more realistically minded than her coworkers and is blunt in her speech. Her brutal honesty and comedic relief amidst an otherwise dramatic play was refreshing. Hunter, also, was entertaining in her role even if she had the least time out of the 3 “radium girls”.

I only have two small critiques of this play. One would be the length, though that is not at fault of Olentangy Liberty but more so the original writer of the play. The second (as an audience member) it was hard to distinguish two different characters that were played by the same actor. Overall, though, this play was awesome and everyone involved did amazing!

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