The Student Newspaper of Highline College

‘Half Life’ radiates strong acting, talky script

  May 13, 2021

The Half Life of Marie Curie is a good play. However, it spends most of its time talking about interesting events instead of showing them.

The play was written by Lauren Gunderson. Burien Actors Theatre’s production is directed by Andrew Coopman. The play is about Marie Curie (Jane Martin Lynch) and Hertha Ayrton’s (Brynne Garman) friendship and personal struggles of being women of science in 1911; especially Curie, who has recently been caught up in a scandal.

The show is apparently historically accurate except they’ve condensed what was several years’ worth of events into a year.

Both actresses have great chemistry with each other and get a lot of laughs out of the audience, even though they’re not physically together for all the scenes.

The story has the nasty habit of telling the viewer about past events instead of showing, like Marie and her late husband’s relationship, or how she and Ayrton are genius scientists.

Because the play doesn’t show much of the pair’s accomplishments, it is mostly just people complaining about how much their lives suck. 

And, their lives did: It sucked to be anyone who wasn’t a straight white male in the higher echelons of society back then. But (and I don’t mean to come off as condescending or uncaring toward women’s suffrage) after a while a person can’t help but go “We get it, your lives suck. Now either stop complaining or do something about it.”

This play might also be a good watch for those who are interested in the life of Marie Curie and want to learn more about her that isn’t just reading or listening to an audio book.

This feels like a play that would have worked much better on the stage instead of Zoom, because Zoom is a lot more constrictive than a large stage with backdrops and the actors being physically present.

However, it’s hard to blame the production because they’re in between a rock and hard place. They can’t just open up the theater as it would risk spreading Covid, so Zoom was probably the safest option.

But this means that the audience misses out on the theater experience, which can be part of the appeal.

If a person is interested in watching the show, showtimes are on May 15 at 8 p.m. and May 16 2 p.m. The price is whatever a person can give, with Burien Actors Theatre accepting as little as a dollar.

Tickets are available at  https://www.battheatre.org/shows/shelter-in-place-season-2021/shelter-in-place-season-3-2021/the-half-life-of-marie-curie-by-lauren-gunderson.