Galileo lived in age when the church reigned supreme, faith was more important than fact and dogma denied discovery. The ages of reason and enlightenment were a long way off. Scientists and free thinkers lived in fear of the inquisition and debate was stifled.
It is an enormous tribute to Tim Hardy’s captivating skill and abilities as an actor that he can keep his audience focussed for seventy minutes and on a subject that is largely detached from our modern lives.
Galileo knew from his observations that the sun, not the earth, was the centre of the universe. Copernicus had asserted it mathematically and modelled it but Galileo claimed to have observed it. He was therefore at odds with the church whose geocentric view was an article of faith and so by definition had to be true. Galileo wanted to remain true to being both an astute astronomer and a devout catholic, but that was becoming increasingly impossible: one would have to give way. Was Galileo going to be the hero of heliology or be hounded by heresy?
Tim Hardy’s Galileo is not only a man of reason but a reasonable man. He is likeable; he wants to follow his passion, get on with his work and be left alone. The duplicitous Pope Urban and his acolytes however will ultimately not remain enthroned and have their authority and the divine order challenged. During the course of the years spanned by The Trials of Galileo we meet a host of characters whom Tim Hardy sharply defines by voice and gesture. We hear him rant and rage, argue and acquiesce, lament and laugh as he goes from place to place meeting more and more immovable people only to return to the haven of his lonely room and beloved telescope.
It is an enormous tribute to Tim Hardy’s captivating skill and abilities as an actor that he can keep his audience focussed for seventy minutes and on a subject that is largely detached from our modern lives. That’s not to say that this wordy treatise could not be made more vigorous with some judicial editing and more appealing with additional sound and some visual imagery.