The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is a 1964 play written by Paul Zindel, a playwright and science teacher. Zindel received the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for the play.
Written in a style many critics have called reminiscent of Tennessee Williams, the play's world premeire took place at the Alley Theatre in Houston, after which it premiered Off-Broadway. It was adapted for the screen in 1972, directed by Paul Newman and starring his wife JoAnne Woodward and daughter Nell Potts. Woodward won the award for Best actress at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.
The play revolves around the dysfunctional family consisting of single mother Beatrice and her two daughters, Ruth and Tillie, who try to cope with their abysmal status in life. Shy Matilda "Tillie" Hunsdorfer prepares her experiment, involving marigolds raised from seeds exposed to radioactivity, for the science fair. She is, however, constantly thwarted by her mother Beatrice, who is self-centered and abusive, and by her extroverted and unstable sister Ruth, who submits to her mother's will. Over the course of the play, Beatrice constantly tries to stamp out any opportunities Tillie has of succeeding, due to her own lack of success in life. As the play progresses, the paths of the three characters diverge: Tillie wins the science fair through perseverance; Ruth attempts to stand up to her mother but has a nervous collapse at the end of the play, and Beatrice—driven to the verge of insanity by her deep-seated enmity towards everyone—kills the girls' pet rabbit Peter and ends up wallowing in her own perceived insignificance. Despite this, Tillie (who is much like her project's deformed but beautiful and hardy marigolds) secretly continues to believe that everyone is valuable.
Austin Theatre Project's production introduces a new director and five spectacular actresses to the Austin theatre community! Directed by Ellie McKay (who moved to Austin from Seattle to join the staff at the Zach), Marigolds will feature an excellent cast led by Maureen Slabaugh (Beatrice Hunsdorfer). Maureen also recently moved to Austin from Seattle. Beatrice's daughters will be played by a pair of actresses from San Marcos and Texas State University. Kelly Matthews will be playing role of Tillie, the quiet child with a new-found passion for science. The gregarious Ruth will be played by Libby Hollinger. The elderly boarder Nanny will be played by Round Rock actress Veronica Prior and Science Fair contestant Janice Vickery will be played by Austin newcomer Nirali Shastri-Hill.
ATP is offering a special discount for all who purchase tickets for the final weekend. Simply go to our ticketing page and scroll down and click on the "Enter a Password or Discount Code" line. When you enter the code "Cobalt60" you will see new prices that are $5.00 off. (There are no further discounts for the group rates.)