LOVESONG OF THE ELECTRIC BEAR
by Snoo Wilson.
Hope Theatre Hope & Anchor pub 207 Upper Street Islington N1 1RL To 21 March 2015.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: Carole Woddis 7 March.
Whirlwind journey from an unusual POV.
Welcome back, Snoo Wilson. With his untimely passing two years ago, titles as beguiling as this disappeared from the theatrical landscape.
So congratulations to the Hope Theatre, Artistic Director Matthew Parker and producer Cas Hodges for what turns out to be the European premiere of Snoo’s flight into the legend that has become Alan Turing, World War II code breaker and personal enigma.
Forget The Imitation Game, a pale shadow even of Hugh Whitemore’s award-winning 1986 stage play Breaking the Code (later adapted for TV with equal success). Turing has met his equal in the expansiveness of Wilson’s wonderful imagination.
Written in 2003, Lovesong is wittier, wilder and more moving, as if by touching the surreal it also goes to the heart of the mathematical genius who, traumatised by medical `castration’ for his homosexuality, committed suicide at 41.
Turing’s story is told through the delectably outsize Porgy, Turing’s loyal teddy bear to whom apparently he used to practise his speeches. Heartbreaking is the moment at the end when, having taken cyanide, Porgy follows his `master’ by pulling-out his own straw innards.
On the way to his demise, Snoo treats us to a whirlwind journey through Turing’s school-days, excursions to Poland, Bletchley Park and Manhattan drag clubs, with a script as keenly aware of other world dimensions (Turing as gift of the gods) as of his unconventional (bordering on autistic) personality and social milieu.
There are digs aplenty against the establishment and a wry sense of the absurd as well as Turing’s agony (you just have to look at the bitten fingernails), delivered with a compassion that leaves you in no doubt as to its author’s sympathies.
Director Matthew Parker gives this electric bear a terrific run for its money in a kaleidoscopic production with a hugely talented cast of six who work wonders in a space the size of a postage stamp.
When so much theatre these days deals in TV realism, Parker and the company have produced a pacey, inventive cornucopia that does the author’s memory proud. Wherever he is on the astral plain, I hope he’s smiling.
Porgy: Bryan Pilkington.
Alan Turing: Ian Hallard.
Clemmie/Mrs Turing/Man/Nurse/Woman/Ylena: Diane Beck.
Fortune teller/Christopher Morcom/Undergraduate 1/Rajewski/Joan/Bronwyn/Varia: Laura Harling.
Churchill/Hallam/Turing Snr/Blackwood/Dilly Knox/Sergeant/Barman/Greenbaum: William Hartley.
Kjell/Davis/Undergraduate 2/Cornish/Arnold/Judge: Chris Levens.
Bletchley employees/Drag Queens/Voices:members of the company.
Piano: Bryan Pilkington.
Director: Matthew Parker.
Designer: Zoe Hurwitz.
Lighting: Tom Kitney.
Sound: Paul Freeman.
Costume: Clare Amos.
Presented by The Hope Theatre in association with DogOrange.
European premiere of The Lovesong of the Electric Bear at the Hope Theatre London 24 February 2015.