People Productions: These Shining Lives | Sugar Space Arts Warehouse | Theater | Salt Lake City Weekly
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People Productions: These Shining Lives

When: Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 19 2014

Melanie Marnich's These Shining Lives is based on a (tragically) true story that paralleled one of the most notorious cases of workplace abuse in American history: the "radium girls," women workers who ended up discovering the side effects of radium poisoning the hard way due to cruelly profit-minded employers who regarded them as interchangeable. The play focuses on four women whose job was painting watches with radium—so they could be seen in the dark—and their camaraderie. People Productions' staging favors narrative momentum, with no scene changes and almost no blackouts, keeping the story moving. That, and the spirited performances of the cast—lead Sarah Danielle Young is terrific, but everyone else is nearly as strong, and all are on the same wavelength—keep the show compelling even at almost two hours without intermission. Director Richard Scharine's choice to not try to visually convey the physical horrors visited upon these women—he chooses instead to rely solely on spoken text to describe them—is a slightly risky choice that ultimately ends up paying off, as stage makeup is a tricky thing to pull off on a reasonable budget. As it is, the play remains a powerful text that conveys plenty of anger at the injustice of the capitalist system, and the brutal indifference society shows the working classes—particularly women. The decision not to resort to shock, and instead show confidence in the production's ability to compel on its own, is a welcome one. (Danny Bowes)

Price: $10-$15

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