Furman University Theatre goes above and beyond in presenting the artfully mastered play by Melanie Marnich, These Shining Lives.
Based on true events, this play is set during the industrial revolution of the 1920s and tells the compelling story of four women who find lasting camaraderie while working for the Radium Dial Corporation, painting glowing numbers onto watches.
At first, the job seems like a great opportunity for them but the women soon learn of the harmful effect of the radioactive paint and the difficult life-changing decisions that it brings. They are forced to choose between staying silent or putting up a fight and finding the courage to take a stand against the company that put them in harm’s way and stacked the odds against them.
The talented cast of six took the packed Playhouse audience through gripping testimonials of despair over the fatality of radium and moments of reflection on the delicacy and the impact of time. Furman Theatre Arts professor Maegan Azar directs the play. Professor Rhett Bryson is set and lighting designer. Professor Margaret Rose Caterisano designs costumes, and Kevin Frazier designs sound and projection.
The mastery of the motif of time was one of the most captivating elements of the play. Lizzie Dockery ’16 shinned in her role as Catherine Donohue, who narrated her story and that of the other three women and provided emotional testimony on the joys and pains that time brings. She portrayed a woman who remained full of strength and courage even when the odds and the lack time were against her.
Each of the four main female characters expressed the desire for a small degree of importance and to make something of themselves. This is an accurate depiction of the feelings of women during the 1920s who had just gained the right to vote and seemed to be gaining more freedom by the day.
On many different occasions, the scenes inspired the audience to consider what they would have done in a similar situation. Would they have had the courage to break social norms and put up a fight? What kind of person does it take to accept the conditions of the day? Only time can tell.
The play continues 8 p.m. shows this Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Furman Playhouse. The Sunday finale, a matinee, will be a 3 p.m.