In 2018 the name Alan Turing is known as a hero to some extent. Considered by many as the founder of the modern computer. However, whilst alive he was treated like anything but. Breaking the Code tells the story of Turing’s life; of how he cracked the enigma code and the torment he suffered because of his sexuality. Many people will be familiar with the 2014 Academy Award nominated film; The Imitation Game where Benedict Cumberbatch played the role of Alan Turing. However, Breaking the Code was written back in 1986, and, unlike the film which focuses largely on his cracking of the enigma code, the play focuses much more on Turing’s personal life.
The play opens at a Manchester Police Station in 1952 where Turing is reporting a robbery. However, in doing so he openly admits to the Police Officer he had a sexual relationship with the thief, and therefore incriminates himself. Homosexuality was illegal in the UK until 1967 and therefore charges were brought against Turing. We see Turing’s life played out at various different stages. The action goes as far back as when Turing was 16 and we see his awkward tendencies, where he had a habit to bite his nails and speak with a stutter.
Mark Lees did a very good job in portraying Turing in this production of Breaking the Code. The character appears in every single scene in the play. He gave the impression that Turing was a schoolboy trapped in a man’s body. Liz Hudson captured the devastation of Pat Green perfectly when she learned that she would never be anything more than friends with Turing. Carole Carr did a great job in playing the loving mother who had to save face. There is a lovely scene between Lees and Carr when Turning comes out to his mother. This is the first time we see Lees breakdown Turing’s tough exterior, and even though in previous scenes he seemed really fed up with his mother, he cries like a baby when she comforts him. After being treated so appalling by the state, despite effectively saving the country in World War II, Turing is believed to have taken his own life. It does make you question what would he make of the world if he were alive today. As one of many memorable lines from this play states “It’s not breaking the code that matters, it’s where you go from there”.
Reviewer - Eddie Walsh
on - 6/6/18