Company’s cruelty and inhumane work environments are themes in Orange Coast College’s production of “Radium Girls.”

Nearing three hours long, the production’s ambient lighting and props set the mood of a working 1920s building atmosphere and immersed the audience into another time.

Directed by Naomi Buckley, the play traces the history of hundreds of young women who contracted radium poisoning while working for the U.S. Radium Corporation in the manner of a gripping, emotional roller coaster.

Many women from lower working class families for the first time were awarded what they thought would be an opportunity for newly found economic freedom. Instead, they were quickly met with radium poisoning.

The story of Grace Fryer, played by Miranda Lennert, displays the hard work under the watchful eye of supervisor, Mrs. Alma MacNeil, portrayed by Natalie McManus. The girls do as they are told for years by licking their brush tip, dipping it in luminous paint, and meticulously painting watch dials until tragedy begins to surface and girls on the factory floor fall sick.

The OCC Drama Lab quickly became filled with laughter and warm heartedness as the actors Arthur Roeder (Zion Aguilar) and C.B. Lee (Saul Alcaraz) delivered their lines effortlessly.

The storyline of “Radium Girls” focuses on the early development of the U.S. Radium Corporation and the employment of nearly 500 women who eventually fell ill working there. 

Each character’s storyline was riddled with witty one-liners and humor reminiscent of the 1920s. The closing line of the play voiced by Grace Fryer ended the second act and the production beautifully.

“This country just doesn’t have time for an angry woman,” Lennert said.

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