Drama trip: Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Life of Galileo’

Emily Smart writes about the Lower Sixth trip to watch Brecht’s ‘The Life of Galileo’ at the Young Vic:

On 10th May, Lower Sixth Theatre Studies pupils were lucky enough to attend ‘The Life of Galileo’ by Bertolt Brecht at the Young Vic. The play was directed by Joe Wright, a prominent film director whose work includes ‘Atonement’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

‘The Life of Galileo’ combined many modern, high-tech and experimental elements that contributed to this production of Brecht’s classic play on the relationship between science, truth and politics being superb. The play was astoundingly interactive though the ‘in-the-round’ set up with many audience members seated or reclined in the centre of the stage. This allowed for a whole new experience for much of the audience by being surrounded by the unfolding play and actors.

The design by Lizzie Clachan also saw the use of projections onto a large circular cyclorama on the ceiling of the theatre, resulting in the play being brought to life through beautifully clear and detailed images of the solar system which was further dramatised through the overpoweringly loud original music by The Chemical Brothers. This managed to create the sense and scope of the vastness of outer space that Galileo came to terms with when discovering his theory on the heliocentric solar system.

The performance given by Brendan Cowell (Galileo) highlighted his extraordinary talent as the audience was taken on an emotional roller coaster with his passionate portrayal of Galileo complimented by a range of Brechtian V-effekts including puppetry, multi-role play, lots of visible costume changes (the best being the Pope appearing in his underwear to be dressed with layer upon layer of finery), singing and dancing.

Overall, ‘The Life of Galileo’ offered a relevant mirror on the society that we live in today, as issues such as suppression of truth and ‘fake news’, that are tackled by this play, are becoming a pressing concern.

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