top of page
  • Henry Longstaff

Marie Curie The Musical - Charing Cross Theatre

An element is missing in the staging of Curie’s life

Marie Curie musical Charing Cross Theatre
Photography - Pamala Raith


Marie Curie is a name synonymous with pioneering physics discovery, her research integral to modern day medicine and fundamental understanding of radiation but her story is dark and cruel as the science she sought to understand stripped away her health and the health of those presented with the output of her experimentation. She sought to dismantle the social barriers laid before her, fighting for space within the entirely male dominated world of academia, going on to be the first woman ever to be awarded a Nobel Prize. Her story is a fine example of triumphant discovery burdened with an ultimate cost and guilt which in theory should make for an exhilarating evening of theatre, yet this musical is not.

Tracing her life from her arrival in Paris from Poland, seeking further education right past her discovery of not one but two brand new elements, Marie’s story is a concoction of intrigue and misery. She finds love in meeting her husband whom she works alongside but is ultimately a victim of her own curiosity. We see the life of those inside the radium factories through her fellow Pole Anne Kowalska and their treatment as the floor workers begin to get sick from an unknown condition and the lies that kept the truth from getting out, led by serial entrepreneur Ruben DeLong. The signature issue with this adaptation of Curie’s story is that it is simultaneously vague on the detail of her life, never directly addressing her background before coming to France and shoehorning much of her achievements into the closing lines, whilst also scant on helping us understand who she was as a person, instead offering vague answers when challenged upon her motivations. It means the pioneer remains distant, unable to fully connect with an audience.

The music having debuted in South Korea, transferring via Japan before it’s London premiere is written by Jongyoon Choi (book and lyrics from Seeun Choun), is effective but fairly repetitive, rarely breaking from it’s sung through ballad style. The cast match the music well, their vocals accurate and engaging but never quite smashing it out of the park. The score does buck this trend somewhat during ‘Radium Paradise’ as it goes full song and dance Broadway but the number remains an outlier. Chrissie Bhima continues to show her star potential as Anne Kowalska when delivering her songs, the utter betrayal she feels powerful and gut-wrenching but sadly not enough to shock the production into life. Alisa Davidson as Marie does well with what the material offers but with little emotional elements to draw upon the character is cold and hard to read. Thomas Josling has a kind turn as Pierre Curie, able to see Marie’s potential and thoroughly supporting her endeavours as a team.

The set is sadly a little rickety but on the whole effective as director Sarah Meadows tries to find life in the dwindling script. Defining moments in Marie’s narrative are barely glanced at by the script with the songs taking precedence over the plot and draining the momentum from the hour and forty runtime (no interval) yet for some reason feels incredibly rushed in the last five minutes as the script aims to salvage a proper ending for the remarkable scientist. Marie Curie’s legacy has proven to stand the test of time with children learning her name from a young age and is thankfully not reliant on this musical.

Running until 28th July - Tickets

Photography - Pamala Raith

Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page