At the center of this provocative, pedantic play by Bertolt Brecht is the battle between science and religion. But the one-act, hour and a half play is about so much more, including power, persuasion, blind faith and, yes, even fake news.
It also revolves around the Sun. But wait, doesn’t the Sun revolve around Earth? Isn’t Earth the center of the universe?
Director Vince Petronio has placed the action in the center of a U-shaped audience, with supporting actors playing multiple roles behind a narrator (Andrew Iacovelli), who keeps the tale of Galileo moving from his early discoveries in 1609 to his final years following the recantation of his theory.
Richard Noble makes an imposing Galileo, ranting and raving against the Catholic Church leaders who won’t listen to his challenges of the church teachings. Brecht gives him a multitude of words to explain his science to common men who struggle between the logic of his findings and the not-to-be-challenged word of the Pope and his underlings.
If Earth is not the center of the universe, then where is God?
Galileo was silenced by the church and eventually forced to recant his findings, although he had presented proof beyond any hypothesis.
Petronio’s program notes tell us that it took 375 years (1980) for Pope John Paul II to acquit Galileo, a fact that makes the play so relevant today.
“Galileo” is a challenging experience for the director, actors and audience, as Brecht throws a lot of words, theories, scientific and biblical terms at you, but beneath all the verbiage are universal questions that will stay with you after seeing the play.
“Galileo” is the final play at Aurora, 276 Westminster St., in downtown Providence before Burbage moves to their new home and residency at 249 Roosevelt Ave. in Pawtucket, beginning a new partnership with the Rhode Island-based living arts company, TEN31.
The play runs through September 16. General admission tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors. For reservations call 484-0355, or go online at www.burbagetheatre.org.