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The Life of Galileo, National Theatre, London August 17, 2006

Posted by ayasawada in Culture.

National Theatre : Productions : The Life of Galileo

A classic play on the clashes of science and religion. Brecht wrote three versions of this play, each adapted to the climate of the time. It remains a prevalent topic and a highly enjoyable insight into the life of an obsessed scientist and a time when the big questions of the universe impacted everyone’s way of life. An outstanding set fits perfectly the curvature of the Olivier Theatre, a dark screened ‘sky’ upon which the moon, planets and stars will appear. Below it, a hal-bowled dome, reminiscent of observatory and, distrubingly, Hiroshima’s A-bomg dome. The ingenius rotating structure serves as observatory, party hall and prison to the play’s Galileo. The atmosphere certainly enhances an outstanding play, heavy on the scientific rhetoric, but sprinkled with humour and full of PASSIONATE ITALIAN SHOUTING. INDEED, GALILEO SEEMS TO HAVE SPENT MOST OF HIS LIFE SCREAMING AT PEOPLE – BUT PERHAPS THIS IS STILL TRUE OF THE ITALIANS? IT TAKES MOST OF THE THREE HOUR RUNNING TIME FOR HIM TO SUFFER ENOUGH TO FINALLY quieten down. Simon-Russell Beale certainly impresses, if only because you can’t ignore him. I hope the theatre supplies him with Strepsils.

On a side note, it seems that the current terror alert has spread from airports to theatres. The NT provides sandwich boards with a helpful square marking the size of small bags allowed in. Curiously, a large proportion of the audience sneaked their past. But not the young Chinese man of course. You can’t trust those ‘foreigners.’


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