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If ever there was a play crying out to be staged in the round, it’s German dramatist Bertolt Brecht’s 1938 account of the life of the Italian polymath Galileo who got himself into all sorts of trouble by championing the then controversial Copernican view that the earth travels round the sun rather than the other way round. Lizzie Clachan’s circular staging in a reconfigured auditorium serves Joe Wright’s busy, accessible production admirably – placing some of the audience, propped up on cushions, right at the centre as, overhead, the fluid projections of 59 Productions turn the auditorium into a planetarium where stars twinkle and the sun combusts in a fiery glow to the accompaniment of The Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands’ pulsating score.

Puppets briefly preface each scene before Aussie actor Brendan Cowell’s excellent Galileo clicks on bright illuminating lights to begin the action. Heavily bearded, in jeans and T-shirt and, more often than not, with a pencil clutched in his hand, his body is as restless as his intellect as he prances round the raised wooden walkway, always in search of knowledge and more answers and falling foul of the Pope (and the Inquisitor) in the process.

credit: Johan Persson

It’s a full-bloodied central performance round which the rest of the cast play multiple roles, including Billy Howle as the ultimately disillusioned young Andrea in whom the genius astronomer and physicist instils an uncompromising commitment to scientific truth, Brian Pettifer’s Cardinal subtly changing his stance with the addition of each layer of his stately robes, and Joshua James as wealthy Ludovico who decides that marrying the daughter of a man with heretical beliefs (and an opportunistic bent)  really isn’t for him.

Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ

0207 922 2922

Tube: Southwark / Waterloo

Until 1st July 2017   

£10.00 - £38.00


Theatre Review: Life of Galileo
Digital Mag

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