Writer: Catrin Fflur Huws
Director: Angharad Lee
Reviewer: Jon Wainwright
A man feels, makes errors. A machine can only obey the rules. The differences, like those between men and women, seem obvious, until a genius like Alan Turing revolutionizes how we think about thinking. Gwydion Rhys is tremendous as Turing. Pale and floppy-fringed, vulnerable at school with his slight stammer and complete lack of interest in rugger, he confounds the stereotypes about boys who like numbers and boys who like other boys. He has the capacity for the deepest love, the strength to live out his feelings, and the integrity not to deny his true character, whatever the cost.
The script balances the personal and the intellectual. The early friendship with Christopher Morcom (Francois Pandolfo) is deftly handled and provides a moving final line. Christopher teaches him about the night sky, tenderly lifting the telescope upwards, so that Alan can see the North Star. A lifetime later, long after Morcom’s death, he looks into the darkness but cannot see the star.
We get a flavour of Turing’s groundbreaking work with the questions he asks. If there’s a difference in the way men and women think, how can we tell? Can machines think? The objection that machines can’t write poetry is easily countered – neither can most people, but that doesn’t mean they’re machines. If we thought humans were machines, wouldn’t we treat them badly? But look how Turing is punished for refusing to hide his real feelings.
A gameshow format brilliantly mimics and parallels the government and police interrogations (with Robert Harper and Rick Yale versatile in their various rôles). In the end, Turing disobeys the law, something no machine is supposedly able to do, but he is treated like a machine that needs an injection of a different kind of oil to keep it conformable.
Runs until 31st August 2015