Reviewed by Frank McKone
Ayeesha Ash – Virginia, Galileo’s daughter
Peter Carroll – Cardinal Barberini, subsequently Pope Urban VIII
Colin Friels – Galileo Galilei, a teacher of mathematics at Padua
Miranda Parker – Grand Duchess; originally in Brecht’s play, Cosimo de Medici, Grand Duke of Florence
Damien Ryan – Maculi, a supportive friend; not listed in Brecht’s play
Damien Strouthos – Ludovico Marsili, a rich young man
Vaishnavi Suryaprakash – Andrea Sarti, Galileo’s student, daughter of Galileo’s housekeeper (son, in Brecht’s play)
Sonia Todd – Vice Chancellor of Padua University; Procurator in Brecht’s play
Rajan Velu – Fulganzio; not listed in Brecht’s play but Fulgenzio Micanzio (1570 – 1654) was a supporter of Galileo
In the John Willett translation of Life of Galileo, there are 51 characters listed plus sundry Senators and men, women and children.
Set and Costume – Zoë Atkinson; Lighting – Paul Jackson; Composer and Sound – Jethro Woodward; Choreographer – Kate Champion.
Photos by Brett Boardman
|Colin Friels as Galileo - problem solving|
Surprisingly, we find Dr Galileo may not, strictly speaking, have been the original inventor of turning two lenses (a ‘spyglass’) into a ‘telescope’, but without his scientific imagination backed by mathematical calculation we would not have seen Prof Brian Cox showing us all that we now know about the solar system from the stills, videos and even soil samples sent back home to Earth by Explorer 1 (discovered the Van Allen radiation belts, 1958), through Galileo (first Jupiter orbiter, launched 1989), to Cassini (deliberately disposed of via a controlled fall into Saturn's atmosphere on September 15, 2017) overtaken by Voyager 1 which crossed the heliopause (the outer limit of the solar system) in 2012. [Check it all out at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_artificial_satellites_and_space_probes ]
|The Universe according to Ptolemy - Earth at the centre|
suspended in Galileo's teaching space
Galileo faced the Papal Inquisition; we still face a Prime Minister elected by a “miracle”!
|Peter Carroll as Pope Urban VIII|
I’m sure Galileo himself would have appreciated the Okham’s Razor economy and success of what Wright calls his “concentration” of Brecht’s play.
The second highly successful device concentrates the acting space. Belvoir Theatre has always been a more personal space than the once traditional proscenium arch stage. One corner of the old factory floor for acting; audience mainly on two fronts looking in.
The Ensemble Theatre in Sydney, set up by Hayes Gordon before Belvoir’s time, has the audience on three sides looking into a more central space (and seeing more easily across to others in the audience).
|The cast of Life of Galileo in-the-round|
We are there when potential sponsors look through the new technology – the telescope – and see Jupiter with moons that have never been seen before; and which are orbiting the planet!
We are in the waiting room when the news comes that the Vatican research institute, the Collegium Romanum, has confirmed Galileo’s findings that prove Copernicus was right.
And we are there waiting, too, when the news comes that the Inquisition has placed Copernicus’s teachings on the hated Index, as blasphemy.
We are in there, personally engaged in each of the key moments in Galileo’s life. And even after his death (he died in 1642 under house arrest in Florence), we are present when his student Andrea smuggles his secret book, the ‘Discoursi’, through the border post on the way to safety in Holland.
|Colin Friels as Galileo|
His secretly written book Discorsi is hidden inside a sphere
for Andrea to take through the border checkpoint.
And we cheer for the extraordinary effort and quality of the writing, the imagination in the design and the skills of the actors which make such powerful and valuable theatre.