‘Radium Girls’ tells a story of illness, strength and determination


Radium Girls Poster. Provided by the UK Department of Theatre + Dance

Grace Medley, Reporter

“Radium Girls,” a play presented by UK’s Department of Theatre and Dance, was performed from Oct. 13-16. The play was written by D.W. Gregory and is inspired by true events.

The play follows Grace Fryer, played by Lexi Brady. Fryer is a 15-year-old worker in a factory who paints dials with radium. Unaware of the adverse effects of the substance, Fryer and her fellow workers frequently put their paint brushes in their mouths to get a nice point when painting the dials.

This later proves to create a dire outcome for the ill-fated group later dubbed “radium girls.”After years of working at the factory, symptoms of illness start to pop up with alarming frequency. Fryer and friend Kathryn, played by Alexandra Brown, witness their friend die and become worried about their own symptoms.

Upon her discovery of what caused her condition, Fryer becomes desperate to save other women from her fate. She spreads her story through newspaper articles, trying day in and day out to hold the factory, especially company president Arthur Roeder, played by Jacob Ernst, accountable in a court of law.

Fryer’s quest for justice faces backlash from many people, but she is also met with an outpouring of support. She receives positive letters from people across the country.

Even as she watches her friends and former coworkers die, gets into arguments about legal fees with her mother and feels the pressure from the factory’s board as they push back court dates, Fryer does not back down and sees her plan through to the end.

After the lights faded on the last scene on opening night, the audience gave a standing ovation as the 14-person cast came out to give its bows.

Many UK students were present in the audience, some for a class assignment and others for personal reasons. Two such students were senior marketing and management major Lily Wilson and senior communication sciences and disorders major Abby Sirrine who were there to support their friends in the cast.

Of the play, Wilson said, “I didn’t really know much about the story beforehand, so I was excited to figure out the story.”

Sirrine said, “I thought it was very educational.”