Wiltshire Creative has become adept at programming timely revivals. Thus we have Hugh Whitemore’s 1986 play Breaking the Code in the year that mathematician Alan Turing was named icon of the century in a television poll and announced as the face of the new £50 note.
Focusing on the events leading up to Turing’s 1952 prosecution for gross indecency, it yields little that we have not come to know in recent years about the breaking of the Enigma code, but more about Turing’s life before and after Bletchley Park.
Christian Durham’s production features performances, direction and design that mesh perfectly. Durham moves his cast fluidly around James Button’s set as Chris Davey’s clever lighting illuminates hanging screens and coded floors, propped up by empty filing cabinets and storage boxes.
This is the second production of the season to be played in the round, following a revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking. Three of that cast feature here with Caroline Harker as Turing’s mother, Louise Calf as the Bletchley colleague who falls in love with him, and Hubert Burton, doubling as the ghostly echo of Turing’s school friend Christopher Morcom and Greek lover Nikos.
Edward Bennett is tremendous as Turing. Thanks to him, the production grips throughout. Rarely off stage, Bennett’s stuttering, nail-biting Turing is socially awkward and vulnerable, but vividly eloquent when explaining complex mathematical theories.
There’s strong support from Ian Redford, as the detective whose investigation of a minor burglary leads to the court case, and Julian Firth, as the man who recruits Turing as a code-breaker.