Friday, October 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Acme’s historical ‘Radium Girls’ has message for today

Dialpainters Irene (Margaret Starbuck), Grace (Camila Biaggi) and Kathryn (Eden Tomich) gossip during their work at the U.S. Radium Corporation, unaware of the dangers the radium-based paint poses. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page A9 | January 08, 2013 |

Check it out

What: “Radium Girls”

Where: Pamela Trokanski Performing Arts Center, 2720 Del Rio Place

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $12 general, $10 seniors, $8 students; save $2 online at brownpapertickets.com

Info: Acmetheatre.net

I am continually amazed that Acme Theatre Company, whose young members spend a maximum of three, possibly four years, performing with the group before moving on to college, continue to present some of the most professional theatrical productions around.

The company also continues to present shows that make us laugh and think, and especially leave us with topics to talk about, topics that may have a historical context, but that are relevant even today.

“Radium Girls,” by D.W. Gregory, covers one of those topics. At the dawn of the 20th century, according to program notes, radium was full of glowing promise and represented the bright potential of scientific progress. The Curies were celebrities and radium’s fantastical healing properties were an overnight sensation. Radium-infused toothpaste, hair creams, medicinal waters and make-up were made quickly available to the public.

In 1917, the U.S. Radium Corp. opened a factory in Orange, N.J., and began hiring young women to paint the small, glowing numbers on watch dials. The job paid well and the work was challenging, but appealing, until the dial-painters began experiencing health problems, which were not properly diagnosed.

When studies linked the strange physical conditions — rotting jaw bones, various cancers, necropsy of extremities — to radium, U.S. Radium Corp. covered up the findings and insisted that their plant was “clean” and presented no danger to the workers.

“Radium Girls” follows the case of three young women — Grace (Camila Biaggi), Kathryn (Eden Tomich) and Irene (Margaret Starbuck) — as they first work for the plant and then, one by one, begin to get ill. After Irene’s death, Grace and Kathryn decide to bring a lawsuit against the plant, and the plot is on.

Grace is the longest-lasting and hardest-fighting of the trio and we watch her character grow throughout the play. Her formal education ended at age 15 and she starts as a naive thing who trusts that her employer will take care of her, but she learns a lot along the way and ends up much stronger for it. It is a beautiful performance by Biaggi.

The play, which is staged at the Pamela Trokanski Performing Arts Center on Del Rio Place (a perfect venue for Acme!), is directed by Maddy Ryen and includes eight actors, six of whom play many different roles. There is not a weak performance in the lot.

Will Kingscott is the other actor playing only one role, that of Arthur Roeder, the president of U.S. Radium Corp., torn between his drive to lead his company and to deny any responsibility for the girls’ illnesses, and his deeply embedded desire to be a good guy. We want to hate him, but Kingscott makes us feel the character’s dilemma. In the courtroom, and later at the cemetery, he is so guilt-ridden that he cannot look Grace in the eye.

In addition to playing Irene, Starbuck also appears as Kathryn Wiley, the lawyer whose determination kept the suit active but who, in the end, uses the girls for her own group’s purposes almost as much as their employer does.

Miki Benson and Wil Forkin are perfect as the newspaper reporters hungry for every gruesome detail about the girls’ illnesses and giddy with delight when some new tragedy befalls them. They are too sadly reminiscent of the paparazzi, celebrity reporters and talking heads of today.

Forkin also plays Grace’s long-suffering, devoted boyfriend, Tom, who stands by her through the early days of what ultimately will be her fatal illness.

Antonio De Loera-Brust is both Von Sochocky, the man who originally founded U.S. Radium and who developed the radium paint that is killing the workers, and the attorney who represents the corporation in the lawsuit, who attempts to buy the girls’ silence with a fairly low settlement offer.

In smaller roles are Katy Zaragoza-Smith, Brian Stewart and Matt Fyhrie, all of whom deliver the goods for their many characters.

Kudos also to whoever had the idea of using radiation green to light the back of the stage during scene changes!

Despite the depressing topic, there are some lighter moments that break the tension, but ultimately there can be no happy ending.

Director Ryen has created a tightly woven production that should remind all of us how little practices have changed in the business world today, as far too many corporations still value profits over the welfare of their workers.

Comments

comments

.

News

Gardner guilty of murder, with special circumstances

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
State superintendent makes campaign stop in Davis

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
State races test one-party rule

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A2

Meet Poppenga at Saturday reception

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Bob Dunning: Lawn display causes a theological crisis

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Couple killed in Yolo County crash

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Same-party races challenge incumbents

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Indians celebrate Diwali with gala on Sunday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Rairdan dinged for late report

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

 
Veterans will tailgate at ‘Salute to Heroes’ game

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Wolk hailed for environmental votes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Yamada honored for leadership on aging issues

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Embroidery group meets at mall

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Bones for Life classes offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Bet Haverim will hear Israel update

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Local artisans featured at holiday craft fair

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Kids walk for friends at Birch Lane

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Explorit: Creep out with some spooky science

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4

 
Shambhala offers Tai Chi class

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Enjoy wine, music and art at Sunday fundraiser for DHS choir

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

 
.

Forum

New-school cheating on the smartphone

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
My choices on Tuesday

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Garamendi, Dodd get my votes

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
High hopes for Sunder

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Public service is in her heart

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
A calm, thoughtful voice

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Sunder is a perfect fit

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Best predictor is past behavior

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Vote for students, with Tuck

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
.

Sports

DHS plays undefeated Pacers Friday night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Blue Devil girls net an easy win at Grant

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Aggie offense A-OK; now what about defense?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
In Davis, rugby is as American as apple pie

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
 
Niemi’s 43 saves aren’t enough in loss to Wild

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

 
Calling all artists for upcoming show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

‘Birdman': A dark comedy that soars

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11

 
DHS Madrigals host singing workshop

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

 
Marcia Ball to play at The Palms

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Big, capable luxury defines Yukon

By Ann M. Job | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Joseph Francis Gray

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, October 31, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER2

Lyon Real Estate

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER3

RE/Max Gold

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER4

Kim Eichorn

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER5

Susan von Geldern

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER6

Team Traverso

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER6

Yolo FCU

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER6

Juan Ramirez

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER6

Tracy Harris

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER7

Susan von Geldern

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER7

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER8

Julie Leonard

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER8

Joe Kaplan

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER9

Melrina A Maggiora

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER9

Coldwell Banker

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER10

Leslie Blevins

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER12

Julie Partain

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER12

Robin Garland

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER13

Jamie Madison

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER13

Diane Lardelli

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER13

Karen Waggoner

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER14

Jamie Madison & Associates

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER14

Lisa Haass

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER14

Ciana Wallace

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER15

Travis Credit Union

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER16

Malek Baroody

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER17

Marcelo Campos

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER18

F1rst Street Real Estate

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER20