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The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
Dialectic Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
Several years ago there was a production of Bertolt Brecht's A Life Of Galileo at the National Theatre, which we failed to go and see, so when I discovered it was being staged at the RSC in Stratford, although it's quite a trek, we decided to get tickets. We spent the afternoon doing touristy-stuff and pondering whether The Real Tea Cafe was a chain or a one-off.

Ian McDiarmid was unsurprisingly uncompromising as Galileo, and all of the cast performed well. For me, it's a work evidently written in the 1930s about the conflict between science and religion in seventeenth-century Italy. Or is it about religion, or Marxism, or Nazism, or freedom of thought and expression? For the most part, the play matches the historical record, although it takes liberties with the character of Galileo's daughter, Virginia; however Brecht's Galileo and his friends do seem to veer in the direction of militant atheism, whereas in fact Galileo never considered himself anything other than one of the faithful. And although he's the hero of the work, Galileo is challenged by his housekeeper, Mrs Sarti, who points out that he is quite willing to follow his unproven scientific hypotheses as "faith" when it suits him. So there was plenty of food for thought.

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