Friday, 8 February 2013

RSC's "A Life of Galileo" by Bertolt Brecht

Let me just start by saying I love the RSC. I really do. Their theatre in Stratford Upon Avon is one of the best features of the place. Having lived near there all my life, I have really appreciated being able to grow up and enjoy what they have to offer. Not only that, but they have this amazing scheme called the 'RSC Key', where young people between the ages of 16 to 25 are able to get £5 tickets to shows. Considering normal tickets can cost up to, and way more than, £30/40 these days, this is amazing. I'm just gutted I'm in my last year of this age bracket.

You might expect Shakespeare to be a big tub of heavy lard in terms of how easy it is to consume as 'entertainment', but believe me, give it a go, seriously. The RSC somehow manages to re-interpret each play every time. The atmosphere is great, the stage and art direction is always impressive, and hopefully you get a good set of actors thrown in as well. Well, considering David Tennant is playing Shakespeare's "Richard ii" this season, lets not doubt that one eh!?

The RSC also provide a good selection of non-Shakespeare productions. Last years favourite of mine was the xmas show of "The Heart of Robin Hood," and it wasn't just because the lead was slightly yummy. Ahem. ANHYWAYS, onto my suposed "review" of the most recent play I've seen - "A Life of Galileo," originally written by Bertolt Brecht.

This, as you would guess, is about Galileo. About his lead to the discovery of the moons of Jupiter, proving without argument (you would think) that not everything moves round the Earth and, perchance, we all actually orbit around the Sun.

This play offered an insight into the development of his theories, the build up of unbreakable proof of Heliocentrism, and the preferred blindness of the Italian Catholic authorities at the time. It was not possible that we, humans made from God's own image, could be subservient to another force in the heavens! This then lead to Galileo's forced retraction of his findings, stating they "were false." The focus of the play's morals pinnacled at this point, the writer having obvious concerns for the well being of Science if all great scientists ever went back on their discoveries.

I am glad I saw this production. Considering I initially thought Galileo was part of Ancient Greece and not, in fact, born a few weeks before Shakespeare, this play proved most educational for me. It became border line shaming when, during a scene in the show, Galileo asks why ice floats, and I actually couldn't say off the top of my head. SOMEONE needs to go back to school.

The play had quite a relaxed feeling to it. It wasn't over acted, it wasn't written in deep Shakespearian language, and the acting was really good but not intimidating. The RSC still managed to fit in a little ambiguous danse sequence that they insist on doing in nearly all their shows... sometimes I like it, sometimes I just think "necessary?" This play was enjoyable but I would say that others have had more impacting effects on me, such as "The Taming of the Shrew" I saw last year - bloody great. 

One thing I would say stood out BY FAR was the incredible persona and performance of Ian McDiarmid, who played 'Galileo.' He is the reason why I would recommend this play to anyone. I've never seen such inclusive acting. It was so natural, like watching your most favourite, charismatic teacher at school. Genuinely. And we've all had at least one we can think of. HE was just brilliant.

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