Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘Breaking The Code’ Of Alan Turing

REVIEWED BY IKI MINOGUE

Set in World War II, British playwright Hugh Whitemore’s 1986 play, Breaking The Code jumps through the years to show us the different stages of Alan Turing’s life which helped form his character outside the great mathematician he is so well known for today. In recent times Turing has posthumously gained much mainstream recognition and attention, being pardoned by the Queen of England, being the subject of two operas, and having the story of his greatest invention be told in an Oscar winning film, The Imitation Game. However, Breaking The Code shines a generous light on parts of his personality the mainstream have shied away from, such as his attraction to men and his autism.

The play opens with most characters present on set, and stays this way, with most scenes having characters watching on like ghosts looming in silence. The set remains bare, with only a projection playing behind the actors at times, and the only sound effects coming from actors singing from the sides of the stage. This minimalist set allows for the strong acting to take centre stage, which is the biggest attraction of the performance. Every actor who takes the stage is bold and powerful, making up for the writing which can be repetitive and slow.

The dialogue attempts to take us down a 19th century philosophical path, do we have self-determination as people or are our lives destined and we are simply carrying out this destiny? However, the writing is slow and arduous to sit through at times due to the constant repetition of the same motives. The dry writing is made enjoyable to consume through the strong acting and depiction of characters. All three actors who play Alan Turing (Steve Corner, Ewan Peddley, and Harry Reid) do an immaculate job of depicting Turing’s less desirable aspects in a realistic and humane manner, when these parts could have easily been subject to humiliation or caricature. The actors all also have great harmony with each other, making the scenes in which they are naked with their lover extremely believable, human, and warm.

Overall, the play is worth a watch if you are interested in the politics of the war and historical LGBTQI figures. Otherwise, it might feel as though time is moving slower than the 2hr 20 minute run time.

Until Mar 5. New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown. $22-$30+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.newtheatre.org.au

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