Snoo Wilson’s strange Lovesong of the Electric Bear is prone to both the prosaic and poetic. His narrator is Alan Turing’s stuffed teddy bear, Porgy, played with an abundance of charm by Bryan Pilkington. Porgy takes us through a sequence of events in Turing’s life, trying desperately to stop him from killing himself, a structure that is almost exactly the same as It’s a Wonderful Life, except for poor Turing it wasn’t always.
With Benedict Cumberbatch playing Turing in The Imitation Game, which was released in cinemas in November, it is a good time to premiere Wilson’s play in London. On the other hand, it is debatable whether this is a good play – it’s chock-a-block with exposition for one and you don’t feel that you’ve really learnt anything from it that you couldn’t pick up from a biography of this great man.
Still, Matthew Parker’s production is energetic and imaginative, with a sweetly low-fi aesthetic that somehow fits this eccentric character. The cast members perform with gusto. As Turing, Ian Hallard’s descent doesn’t quite take him believably to the depths of suicide, but he is a lovely mass of twitches, tics, obsessions, sweetness and a desperate focus wrapped up in painful absentmindedness.
Dates: February 24-March 21, PN February 27