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Alan Turing: A Musical Biography | The Other Palace Studio

Alan Turing. What does that name mean to you? Well, that man was a genius, a hero, and kind man. This production tells his story, one of a brilliant (and oftentimes overlooked) mathematician responsible for saving approximately 14 million lives during WWII. Also responsible for the development of artificial intelligence, and even the modern computer, Alan’s work went unrecognised for years posthumous due to his sexuality. As a result of a prejudiced society, the man responsible for the breaking of the German Encryption Machine (known as Enigma), and arguably the end of the war, ended up committing suicide at the age of 41.

What I found particularly interesting in this production is how Alan’s words were almost entirely his own. The new script devised by Joan Greening was almost entirely made up of Alan’s own letters in order to deliver the story, and that way, no words were put into his mouth. Not only did I find this tool particularly cunning, but it made the story that much more real, and as a result, emotionally poignant. “A winner, a fellow, a good man”- those are the three phrases which really stuck with me. Despite what people may have thought at the time, Alan Turing was a good man and an international hero. But, like too many before him, Turing’s sexuality became the factor which stopped him from receiving the recognition he so deserved.

The performances delivered by Joe Bishop and Zara Cooke were simply mesmerising - so much so that I was brought to tears multiple times. Not to mention the music composed by Joel Goodman and Jan Osborne, which really helped bring the story together in an ingenious manner.

This particular adaptation drew parallels between the modern world (through the character of Andrea) and the society in which Alan lived during the mid-20th Century. Andrea is a biographer who wrote about Alan Turing to bring to attention how the treatment of the LGBT+ community has overshadowed a truly heroic discovery. Although the addition of this character is the perfect way of drawing parallels between the two worlds, I felt as though her story got slightly lost over time. As Alan’s story is so fascinating, it would have been difficult to bring justice to both characters in this little time. That being said, this production would entirely deserve, and benefit from, a longer run-time in order to fully realise its potential.

Overall, I found this production to be very clever in its delivery of Alan Turing’s story. The performances delivered by Joe Bishop and Zara Cooke were both flawless, and the music simply enchanting and perfectly fit the tone of the story. However, I did feel that the production would have benefited from extra time as some sections of the story felt slightly rushed.

Alan Turing: A Musical Biography will be making its appearance at Edinburgh Fringe before appearing at other theatres for limited runs. For more tickets and information, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Douglas Armour


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