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Alan Turing: A Musical Biography | Riverside Studios

Alan Turing is a prolific figure in British history, a genius whose exceptional mathematical skills helped to bring WW2 to a close with his code breaking abilities. This musical takes us on a journey through his life from a young child to the tragedy of his death. With music composed by Joel Goodman and Jan Osbourne, and script by Joan Greening, this is a large story to try and portray in the short 80 minute piece.

As we enter the studio, the stage is almost bare, with only a desk, table, chalkboard and a bike used to give any reference to locations and scene changes. The floor is often used as a chalk- board, with equations and codes being written throughout the piece. Performed by only two actors, Joe Bishop and Zara Cooke, this is a difficult piece to take on. Both actors make the best of what sadly feels like a script that needs tightening up. Zara in particular stood out showing us her diverse skills in taking on several of the ‘supporting’ characters in this story. Zara has a wonderful voice that was delightful to listen to.

I do wonder if this production would work better as a straight play rather than a musical, as at times, the songs can feel jarring and do not assist the plot in moving forward. There are many beautiful large ballads in the piece, which though wonderful to listen to, can at times feel a little monotonous. So it would be nice to see some more light hearted numbers included to add some variety in the pace of the show.

Given the enormity of this story and the events that occurred, especially towards the end of Alan’s

life, I do not feel that this piece shows his story to its full potential or does justice to the incredible work he achieved throughout his life, and how he was ultimately let down by society. The moments towards the end of the piece where we learn of the sadness that plagued the later years of Alan’s life, following his oppression for being an openly gay man, did not feel that it had the full impact it could have on the audience. It felt that the real implications of the treatment Alan was subjected to has been lost somewhere along the way and it’s almost glazed over rather than used as the emotional peak of the performance.

With some work on the pacing, maybe the addition of some lighter songs to break up the tone of the piece and some refinement regarding the key points of this story, it has real potential to be a groundbreaking show that would help share the story of a fantastic man who deserves to be remembered.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | written by Rosie | photography by Gabriel Bush


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