Mike & Sara Nower’s epic production of Breaking the Code outlines the hapless life and loves of Alan Turing, the wartime code-breaker and the father of British computing. On a commendably bare stage of a few black boxes, with a ‘groups-of-five’ backdrop, they succeeding in creating convincing depictions of time and space despite a fractured timeline after, before and during the war.
Jim Crozier was awesome as the stammering, mathematical genius, homosexual Turing trying to function in a world which tragically didn’t understand him or his work. Steve Holding was perfectly underplayed as the imperturbable policeman plodding his way to the truth of Turing’s illegal sexuality. Ivor Jevons used a well-developed sense of comic timing as the establishment ‘foil’ to Turing , and Catherine Kenton employed a delicious sense of a 40’s paramour to add a welcome, if ill-starred, love interest. Liam Collins as a casual pick-up, was the barb that eventually caught Turing, and Beth Walters played the baffled mother with great feeling.
Some of Jim Crozier’s long but key speeches were gripping for aficionados of code-breaking, but perhaps a trifle tedious – especially with the stammer - for the others. For me, the key scene was a truly explosive exchange between Turing and David Chilvers as a Greek pick-up where Turing poured out his secrets to the uncomprehending Greek, countered by a torrent of Greek, to the equally uncomprehending Turing.