He ruled the Galactic Empire as the evil Sith Lord Darth Sideous – also known as Emperor Palpatine - in Star Wars, writes George Odling.

And now Ian McDiarmid is taking on another powerful institution – the Catholic Church – when he reprises his title role in Bertolt Brecht’s A Life of Galileo.

Brecht’s masterpiece charts the Italian astronomer’s fight with the church over his assertion that the Earth orbits the Sun.

Ian McDiarmid is best known for his role as the evil Emperor in Star Wars

Roxana Silbert’s celebrated production, translated by Mark Ravenhill, opened at the Royal Shakespeare Company in February 2013 to great acclaim.

This will be the RSC’s first appearance on the Rose stage.  

He said: "It’s a play that champions humanity. It’s great it makes you think about your place in the universe and infinite possibilities. I’m looking forward to bringing it to Kingston".

McDiarmid’s other film credits include Sleepy Hollow and Dragonslayer. His recent theatre work includes his portrayal of Maximus in Emperor and Galilean for the National Theatre and the title role in John Gabriel Borkman for the Donmar Warehouse.

The cast also includes Mathew Aubrey, Paul Hamilton, Chris Kum Hoi, Katherine Manners, Elizabeth Marsh, Patrick Romer, Jo Servi, Sadie Shimmin, Paul Westwood and Cath Whitefield.

Roxana Silbert is Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre; her previous work includes A Soldier In Every Son and Richard III.

The production is designed by Tom Scutt, music and sound by Nick Powell, movement by Struan Leslie and lighting by Rick Fisher.

A Life of Galileo; Rose Theatre Kingston; Mon 24 – Sat 29 Mar; Tickets £20 - £30, pit cushions £5; 08444 821 556; rosetheatrekingston.org