Jessica Dickey’s world premiere at Remy Bumppo (directed by Marti Lyons) has some echoes of Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife: the playwright appears as a character, researching the life of a historical figure as a way to come to grips with her own personal narrative. But unlike the ethically complicated (but still remarkable) Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (an East German trans woman who survived the Nazis and the Stasi) at the center of Wright’s play, Dickey’s historical role model is a star who shines without a hint of tarnish.
Through 5/14: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2:30 and 7:30 PM, Sun 2:30 PM; also Thu 5/11 2:30 PM; no show Sat 5/13 2:30 PM; audio description/touch tour Sat 4/22 2:30 PM, open captions Sat 4/29 2:30 PM; Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, remybumppo.org, $32-$40 ($15 industry, $10 students)
Galileo’s Daughter puts Maria Celeste Galilei (played by Emily Bosco with soulful forthrightness) at the center of the dramatic firmament, where her father (Chiké Johnson) wrestles with his conscience over how to care for his illegitimate offspring while he’s facing his own impending meteoric collision with the church. Placed in a convent for safekeeping, Bosco’s Maria Celeste writes numerous letters to her father and, as Dickey deftly shows, inspire Galileo’s use of a play as a means of arguing heliocentrism vs. geocentrism.
In present time, Linda Gillum’s Writer has come to Florence to research those letters. (Johnson wittily plays various Italian clerks and bureaucrats.) But her own looming divorce adds a touch of personal anguish to her quest. She and Maria Celeste are looking at history through different ends of the telescope over centuries, but their mutual search for truth and connection centers this quietly moving drama about truth and faith. John Boesche’s stellar (pun intended) projections add a sense of grandeur and awe to frame this riveting story.