‘The Truth isn’t invited in – it has to bang down the door’ – Galileo
Galileo looks set to join the rock stars in Rome and the Vatican when disaster strikes and he is asked by the papacy to abandon his ideas, as they are treasonous in the eyes of the church. There is a palpable sense of frustration and sympathy for GG, as he is referred to, as the man who fervently espoused the new planetary alignments caves to the power brokers in Rome. This is what this play is really about, power and the propensity for people in power to use and abuse in capricious fits, their ignorance holding sway over the facts in front of them.
The modern parallels in Life of Galileo are many and they are striking. This play speaks to current global politics better than any other I’ve seen in recent times. The truth as a dangerous commodity has reached a crescendo overseas and it is a frightening prospect when world leaders are wilfully closing their eyes to truth.
As for Colin Friels, what is his truth? We almost wouldn’t have seen him in any theatre if not for his admitting that the stage got to him, over film and television. He conceded that ‘I’m stupid…theatre is dog’s work, but you’ve got to be a good dog to do it well. It’s agony, it is actually agony.’*
Thank god stage got the better of him is all I can say after seeing the show. Friels is exceptionally good as the frustrated scientist who stands to lose all due to the rigidity of the Roman church. His final transformation – after his acquiescence to the church’s demands – sees his dissipated magnetism from the first act all but gone.
Excellent performances all round were enhanced by the rock concert atmosphere which lent Rome more than a touch of glitz. Don’t miss this one, Tom Wright’s adaptation and Eamon Flack’s directing make this production an absolute delight.
On at the Belvoir Upstair Theatre, for more information and tickets see: https://belvoir.com.au/productions/life-of-galileo/
Director: Eamon Flack
Featuring: Peter Carroll, Colin Friels, Laura McDonald, Miranda Parker, Damien Ryan, Damien Strouthos, Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Sonia Todd and Rajan Velu.
Above image by Brett Boardman
*Weekend Magazine (July 27/28)