How does the theatrical marriage between The Side Project, known for their small studio’s intensely psychological explorations, and the plays of Bertolt Brecht, known for their cold, pragmatic intellectualism, hold up? As evidenced by the forced intimacy of “Galileo” – Brecht’s bio play of the 17th-century scientist whose revolutionary ideas undermined hierarchies of authority and thought – not too well. In theory, director Christopher J. Berens’s production is fundamentally Brechtian even before the house lights go down: the title and playwright’s name is prominently etched upon the back wall to ensure the audience’s continuous, self-conscious “removal” from the drama in hopes that they will take away its politics. But in practice the hyper-intimate side studio forces attention on performances unable to penetrate Brecht’s prolix text to either tell the story or land the political ironies of his diatribe. As such, this “Galileo” feels static and its prescient theme of scientific responsibility to society in light of bureaucratic pressure fails to register, let alone resonate on a contemporary level. Storefront theater dedicated to probing the human condition can certainly tackle the epic theater of ideas but when it comes to Brecht, intellectual and not physical claustrophobia should be the goal. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
This production is now closed.