Alan Turing: A Musical Biography (WIP)

Following on from my preview of this show and interview with composer/producer Joel Goodman, I was invited to see the show at the King’s Head (it runs until the 18 Feb, having recently announced an extension).

This two-hander (Joe Bishop abd Zara Cooke) is still classed as a work in progress, undergoing further development with a new script by Joan Greening, so I will simply offer some thoughts from the perspective of an audience member on the show as it currently stands.

First of all, it does work as a musical, with ten songs highlighting Alan’s life and work through a 65-minute runtime. Characters are Alan himself and his biographer, Andrea.

Technically, it is interesting, using a variety of lighting techniques and ways to highlight Alan’s brilliant mind. Sonehow, Bletchley Park gets short shtift musically, but the machinations of AI and ‘The Imitation Game’ have a much stronger song.

More character development outside the two we see here would be interesting. Was Alan a loner? Who were his family, his mother, his lovers, his friends, his colleagues?

There are moments at school or on the athletics field, where I wanted to know more. How did a boy described as ‘sloppy’ and ‘slow’ in his schoolwork go on to gain fellowships and invitations to study?

What is the strain put on someone with personal secrets as well as professional? Alan is portrayed as an enigma, a code to break, with his mysterious death not letting us in at the end.

I look forward to seeing how this show progresses, as it shows a lot of potential and flashes of something very special. A more weighty script and some song swaps may go a long way to bringing this biopic into the big league.

Alan Turing: A Musical Biography continues at the King’s Head Theatre – tickets here.