Theatre: The Life of Galileo

Tuesday night I caught The Life of Galileo at the National Theatre. This is a new translation by David Hare of the Bertolt Brecht play. It is an epic story (at three hours and two intervals) but still an engaging tale of how Galileo as a genius in the scientific world was unable to deal with the consequences of his genius. He was a scientist not a politician, but to state that the earth moved around the sun challenged the entire notions of Heaven and Earth so was tantamount to heresy.

Simon Russell Beale as Galileo leads a terrific ensemble as the story unfolds from his scientific discoveries to his condemnation and eventual redemption as his work is smuggled out of Italy. David Hare's translation and the production kept things at a brisk enough pace, although a three hour play after a day at work is a challenge both for the actors and the audience.  It was a packed performance too which just goes to show that Brecht too can be accessible…

By the end of the play the real victory was that science and the pursuit of knowledge did triumph of sorts… But it did take the Catholic Church until 1992 (350 years later) to finally admit Galileo was right…

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