You just can’t help but be a little bit impressed by Garreth Bradshaw. Look at the calibre of material that he has helmed in the past few years. His directorial debut (at the ripe old age of 18) was Beckett’s massive Waiting for Godot, followed up with the not unproblematic Taming of the Shrew, and now here he is tackling a huge work by one of the masters of modern theatre: Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht.
Life of Galileo is a work that speaks so strongly to the universality of the human condition; that tells so many stories at once. It’s like Miller’s Crucible railing against McCarthyism or Berkoff’s vitriolic, anti-Vietnam War rework of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon. It’s about the condemnation and corruption of the truth, and the destruction wreaked by the violence of governmental control. It’s about the human need for heroes and the unrealistic expectations we force upon them. So you’ve got to assume Bradshaw is not the shy, retiring type!
Here, he directs the Western Australian Youth Theatre Company’s (average age 20) ensemble in a raucous and refreshing young piece, on a minimalist and innovatively lit set and, most impressively, he resists the urge to be arbitrarily edgy. He seems to recognise that Brecht’s words are powerful enough on their own; that they need to be played down, not up. Attitudinal sotto voce, if you will, where a children’s nursery rhyme becomes a refusal to recant and hung head becomes a political murder. There is no blood, nor gold falling from the sky. There is just the work and its talented young vessels.
Of course, when you have the fabulous Jaymes Brown of (Perth electro/dance outfit) Voltaire Twins creating your soundscape for you, you can’t help but be a bit cool...
I really enjoyed this production. It is funny in all the right places – no mean feat with the spiky Mr Brecht – and its simple truth can also knock the wind out of you. Listening to the bellowed one-word chorus of “Reason!” restored some of my lost faith in those we call Gen-Y and again, though written in the 1940s and about the 1600s, it remains a highly resonant catch cry for people of this millennium; maybe for all millennia, and for all people.
And as for Bradshaw and the performers of the Western Australian Youth Theatre Company? Watch this space.
Be Active and The WA YOUTH THEATRE COMPANY present
The Life of Galileo
by Bertolt Brecht
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre
Dates/Times: 1-2 and 6-9 May at 8pm. Matinees 7 & 8th May at 1pm.
Tickets: from $15
Bookings: BOCS 9484 1133