Starry Messenger Aims Its Lens on Galileo
What teenager hasnt begged their father to change his mind about somethinga curfew, maybe, or a coveted new pair of shoes? Ira Hauptmans Starry Messenger stages just such a standoff, only here the stubborn patriarch is none other than Galileo, whose whiny offspring beseech him to recant his world-changing astronomical discoveries. (In Renaissance Florence, cool kids didnt have religious heretics for dads.)
Hauptman offers an endearingly earnest look at the stargazers dilemmahelped by Susan Einhorns efficient direction, and David Littles capable performance as Galileo. But Starry Messenger doesnt bring anything new about the astronomer into focus. Tunic-clad actors stride purposefully across a bare stage, badgering Galileo to renounce his shocking declaration that the Earth rotates around the sun. One daughter insists recanting would rescue plague-stricken Florence, while her delirious sister turns oracle, rattling off revelations from the futuregravity, evolution, atom bombs. Subatomic particles! she shrieks. My God, restore her mind, Galileo replies.
This is an amusing reminder that most scientific truths once seemed incomprehensible, and that progress often begets destruction. But didnt we already know that? Brecht wrote Galileo, his masterpiece on the same subject, right after the first nuclear explosions. Religion versus science always makes for feisty dramabut breakthroughs are hard to come by when youre re-performing old experiments.
By Ira Hauptman
Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue
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