MARIE CURIE the musical, 3 Stars

Charing Cross Theatre
1st June to 28th July 2024

“Marie Sklodowska Curie. Physicist. Pioneer. Parent.
As she arrives from her native home in Poland to study at Sorbonne University in Paris, young Marie Sklodowska is certain she can make a name for herself and change the course of science. She discovers radium, a new chemical element, with her husband Pierre Curie, and she’s lauded with the Nobel Prize.
But she is faced with an overwhelming moral dilemma. As Marie discovers the lifesaving potential of radium to cure cancer, factory workers handling the glowing substance are succumbing to the insidious grip of radium poisoning.
As a woman with society against her, can she wrestle with both the potential and danger of her discovery – and what is she if radium’s dangers overshadow its possibilities?
A story of life and death, ‘Marie Curie’ has already captivated audiences in Korea and Japan with its sweeping score and story and is now brought to London audiences for the first time in a stirring original production directed by Sarah Meadows (Ride).”

Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars

With a band of 7 and a cast of 11 this is not minor-league. Starting out as a Korean production, MARIE CURIE has been translated into English for this UK premiere. Everything about this production is big and grand – the set design and lighting rig are both extensive.

All the ingredients are here for a spectacular production but somehow its book prefers to dwell on the macabre with limited joy and excitement for the remarkable woman who’s genius changed human-kind.

Both sound and lighting have embraced the harshness of the book with white over-bright lighting hot spots and over-mic’d shrill vocals with more echo than reverb on the songs, it does feel a little like all the on-stage blackboards need are some fingernail scraping choreography to add to the discomfort.

It’s hard to recommend this musical to a particular genre of audience go’ers – the sorts of audience who might enjoy Fantastically Great Women (mothers and daughters?) would likely recoil at seeing a cage of mice at the centre of the experiemenations in the laboratory. The UV scene highlighting the skin lesions and necrosis of the factory workers could put-off the family audiences. There are very few “belter songs” to attract followers of SIX. So who is this musical aimed at?

It does not feel like a celebration of the extensive work and achievements of such an incredible woman. If anything, you wonder if she should be locked up for recklessly damaging and killing so many in the experiments and radium factories. The closing scene does mention Marie Curie’s achievements but it is a long time coming.

So looking for the positives – the Set Design and build are very impressive. A 2-tier affair with trucked lower compartments on wheels. Additionally a large staircase that houses the laboratory, also on wheels. Most of the costumes are “as expected” until you see the shoes which would appear to be modern steam-punk. Rather distracting to have Marie Curie always in a black “polish-peasant-look” but with black shiny patent leather shoes, and her husband looking like a caretaker in brown overalls but with buckles on his shoes. It’s unclear if the footwear has been over-looked or just a questionable design choice?

The principal leads in the musical are outstanding! Ailsa Davidson as Marie Curie hardly ever leaves the stage. Her performance and singing are second to none! Chrissie Bhima as Anne Koalska just terrific! I don’t think Thomas Josling got to sing which felt strange in a musical, and Richard Meek plays the handsome boss who’s character goes from laudable to schemingly self-serving. All very good in their roles.

The band also sounded exceptional throughout the production!

At 100 minutes, no interval, it’s a sombre evening. High production values and clearly lots of investment behind it. But somehow it doesn’t blend well. Does the book undermine the production by giving a dis-service to one of our greatest scientists of all time – who happened to be a woman in an age where women were denied opportunities, only to be belittled by her male tutors and contemporaries? Surely there’s a better book to be written about Marie Curie.

Photo credit: Pamela Raith


Marie Curie – Ailsa Davidson
Anne Kowalska – Chrissie Bhima
Pierre Curie – Thomas Josling
Ruben DeLong – Richard Meek
Irene Curie/cover Anne Kowalska – Lucy Young
Featured Ensemble/Alternate Marie – Isabel Snaas
Featured Ensemble/cover Ruben – Christopher Killik
Featured Ensemble/cover Pierre – Dean Makowski-Clayton
Featured Ensemble – Maya Kristal Tenenbaum
Featured Ensemble – Yujin Park
On Stage Swing – Rio Maye


Producers: Byungwon Kang & LIVE corp.
Book & Lyrics: Seeun Choun
Music: Jongyoon Choi
Musical Director, English Lyrics, New Musical arrangements & Ensemble arrangements Emma Fraser
Director: Sarah Meadows
English Book Adaptation: Tom Ramsay
English Lyrics Adaptation: Emma Fraser
Literal Translation: Ahreumbi Rew
Associate Director: Olivia Munk
Set & Costume Designer: Rose Montgomery
Lighting Designer: Prema Mehta
Choreographer: Joanna Goodwin
Costume Supervisor: Evelien van Camp
Sound Designer: Andrew Johnson
Casting Director: Jane Deitch
Production Manager: James Anderton
General Management: Ollie Hancock & Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment