Writer &Director: Nic Young
Reviewer: Ray Taylor
Tim Hardy stars in this one-man tour de force as Galileo, put on trial in 1633 for heresy. While the play focuses on the events of that trial, it also skilfully relates other incidents in Galileo’s life up to and beyond the trial. In 1632 Galileo asserted his belief that the Earth revolved around the sun, rather than being the centre of the universe and wrote a book about it. The Catholic Church banned it and the Inquisition forced Galileo to denounce his own work as heretical. He was subsequently placed under house arrest but during his confinement he wrote another work which would inspire others such as Isaac Newton to further challenge Biblical doctrine.
Tim Hardy certainly looks the part in a visually authentic costume and grey beard (his own). The performance lasts for 75 minutes without a break and Hardy inhabits the stage with assurance, sometimes addressing the audience directly, while at other times lost in his own ruminations. He demonstrates a full gamut of emotions including anger, bitterness, frustration, despair, fear, satire, humour, enthusiasm, surprise. His scene “with” the Pope is so expertly done it is as if there was, indeed, another actor on the stage. The only lapse in an otherwise acclaimed performance is an occasional drop in his voice with some inaudible speech.
The props and furniture are few but atmospheric: a main desk with a red cloth, a smaller table with pitcher and glass of water, a stool, the iconic telescope, papers strewn about on the desk and floor, a book – but all of these are skilfully used and woven naturally into the production. There is also very occasional use of music that is good and is, if anything, underused.
Galileo is portrayed as something of an innocent in a world of political machination. His somewhat naïve belief in the evidence and his scientific reasoning did not save him from a papal reprimand and from having the full weight of the Catholic church thrown against him. He certainly understood the science better than anyone else, but could never quite grasp the politics.
If you know nothing at all about Galileo before seeing this play you will come away enlightened and entertained and it is predicted that you will seek further knowledge about him at the earliest opportunity.
Reviewed on: 5 February 2015