Beware labours of love. Duncan Watt has for some time been fascinated by the life of Alan Turing: a brilliant mathematician and pioneer in the field of Artificial Intelligence, the prime mover in the team which broke German ciphers in World War Two, who came to be treated with suspicion by the state for his refusal to conceal or moderate his gay lifestyle. Watt has staged Hugh Whitemore's sensitive dramatisation of Turing's biography in a small-scale production of flair and precision (apart from a slight over-fondness for directly addressing the audience). At that point his enthusiasm runs away from him, and he takes the part of Turing himself.
It's a schizophrenic performance: physically subtle and rich, savouring the nuances of every eloquent half-gesture, but vocally underplayed to the point of monotony. This is not the character's introspection, it's the misjudgment of a tyro actor lacking an authoritative director to advise him – because he is the director. It makes for a frustratingly erratic evening, so very nearly wonderful but fatally torpedoed by this single central flaw. The programme quotes Wilde's "Each man kills the thing he loves" – no comment.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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