The Half-Life of Marie Curie

Play Title: The Half-Life of Marie Curie 

Authors: Lauren Gunderson

Publisher: Audible Inc.

Genre: Drama

Primary Discipline: Radium

Secondary Discipline: Chemistry

Scientist (s): Marie Curie, Hertha Ayrton

Character Breakdown: Women (2)

MARIE CURIE: 44. Polish-born, French national. Brilliant, shrewd, private, and patient scientist. At this point, she has already won her first Nobel Prize in physics with her husband Pierre in 1903. She is the mother of two daughters, Irene (14) and Eve (7). She was widowed in 1906 when her husband died tragically. 

HERTHA AYRTON: 57. British. A brazen, ambitious, fiercely intelligent engineer, inventor, and suffragist. Widowed in 1908 she continued her work in electrical experimentation while secretly housing suffragettes running from police. Of Jewish origin, she became an agnostic pragmatist who changed her name from Sarah to Hertha after a Swinburne poem about a goddess of the earth.”

Setting: Marie Curies’ home in France and Hertha Ayrton’s seaside home in England

Time Period: 1911-1914

Synopsis of Play: With the stress of Marie Curie’s recent love affair overshadowing her scientific discovery, that awards her a 2nd Nobel prize, looming overhead. Friend Ayrton encourages them to escape the scrutiny of Paris, and spend time at her Seaside home in Britain. There, the friends reflect on their relationships with their work and each other. The impact of the women’s incredible work is shown throughout the text in this impactful work by Lauren Gunderson. In its premiere performance, Francesca Faridany played Marie Curie and Kate Mulgrew, of Orange is the New Black, played Hertha Ayton.

First Performance Date: November 19th, 2019

First Producer: Audible

Performance History: The Half-Life of Marie Curie premiered Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre in 2019 with glowing reviews. The show is available to listen to via audiobook produced by audible, voice acted by the original off-broadway cast Kate Mulgrew and Francesca Faridany.


Entered by: Anna Galanides

Photo/Visual Research with citations:

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