Rossendale Players crack the code in play about Alan Turing
The fascinating, inspiring and often heartbreaking life story of Alan Turing, the genius who helped to crack the Enigma code, is the subject of the Rossendale Players superb new play.
In the best performance I've ever seen on the stage of the New Millennium Theatre, David Rhodes puts in an awe-inspiring portrayal of the troubled mathematician who found himself playing a pivotal role in the defeat of the Nazis during the Second World War, before falling foul of the discriminatory laws of the 1950s towards homosexuality.
David, who occupies the stage throughout "Breaking the Code", is word perfect as the shy but amazing man who found himself in the secretive world of Bletchley Park during the Second World War and ultimately a victim of prejudice.
The play, which flits between Turing's precocious teenage years in the 1920s, through the war years when he found his calling as a cryptanalyst and into his postwar work at Manchester University, captures his inspirational life, both for his genius and defiance in his homosexuality at a dangerous time for gay people.
Today seen by some as the father of Artificial Intelligence and indeed computers as we know them, Turing's dialogue in the play is not surprisingly laced with scientific and mathematical theorem, which David pulls off with aplomb and no little humour.
His shy and eccentric mannerisms, his sense of humour and his childhood heartbreak are all performed beautifully by David.
A man decades ahead of his time, Turing was a pioneer of computer science and a proud homosexual. His untimely death from a likely suicide, came after he was forced to undergo chemical castration after being convicted of indecency.
Directed by Helena Rose, "Breaking the Code" is as much about Turing's willingness to break the codes of accepted behaviour of perceived sexual morality as it is about his war work, which some commentators estimate shortened the war by more than two years and saved some 14 million lives.
As ever, clever use of props, sound and light ensure the long play flows smoothly as it jumps to various periods of Turing's remarkable life.
A strong supporting cast led by the brilliant Paul Higginbottom as the investigating police officer complement David's performance. Anne Fielder, who plays Turing's mother, captures her pride and ultimate remorse perfectly.
David West is excellent too as Turing's wartime intelligence comrade Dilly Knox, while special mention must also be made to Players newcomer Joe Clegg who plays Turing's first love Christopher.
Lauren Downes, Tom Cross and Steve Gill complete an impressive cast, but this show really is all about Turing and his memorable portrayal by David Rhodes.
On December 24th 2013 Alan Turing was granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. Prior to that, in August 2009 a petition prompted an official apology from the prime minister at the time, Gordon Brown, who said the way Turing was persecuted over his homosexuality was "appalling".
"Breaking the Code" runs at the New Millennium Theatre, Waterfoot, every night this week except Monday from 7-30pm.
Tickets are Â£9 and can be bought online from Ticket Source (www.ticketsource.co.uk/therossendaleplayers), in person from Watts News (next door to the theatre) or reserved for collection on the door by calling 07922021506.