Orbits, by Wally Sewell, follows the planet-sized egos of left wing German playwright Bertolt Brecht and Hollywood film star Charles Laughton as they negotiate the translation and adaptation of Brecht’s play Life of Galileo for its American premiere, with Laughton lined up for the lead.
The themes of Life of Galileo – an account of Galileo’s trial for the heresy of believing that the Earth orbits the Sun and his subsequent recantation under threat of torture – are reflected in the lives of Laughton, a gay man in the climate of 1940s America, and Brecht, who’s left wing sympathies would eventually lead him before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
The play explores how – just as Galileo crumbled under the Inquisition – Brecht’s beloved ‘concrete truth’, could crumble under pressures, political, historical and personal. A fitting tale perhaps for the post-truth times we find ourselves in today.
Edmund Dehn stars and Anthony Shrubsall directs the new play at the Drayton Arms until 11 March, which has been described by The Stage as a ‘thought-provoking character piece’. Make sure you don’t miss it!