Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

code head

Breaking the code

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


IT’S not often at any theatre production, let alone an amateur one, that you get to use the words brilliant, outstanding, emotional and moving.

Even if one performer is at the peak of their game then there’s often some other hiccup to bring the average down.

So it’s with some relief and joy and with complete assurance that this current production of Breaking the Code is possibly the best on any Midlands stage this week.

From the reveal of the stark, minimalistic and surreal set to the acting and the stellar performance of the lead actor Richard Taylor, coupled to the superb direction of Tori Wakeman, subtle lighting and well-chosen sound work, it’s a thing of theatrical beauty.

Let’s face it they have an astonishingly well-crafted play by Hugh Whitmore to work with. A play that has heart, true depth and a connective tissue that just flows each flashback or memory together in a way that never deters or distracts you from the story.

Like much of Whitmore s work, it features a famous historical figure. Here it’s Alan Turing, the mathematical genius revered by Churchill and central to breaking the Enigma code and forging the theory of the first modern computer.

Richard Taylor took on the mammoth task of Turingbringing the troubled life of Turing into being. To say he was excellent would be an understatement.

Taylor, a regular with The Nonentities for the past eight years, held the stage in every scene, in what will be looked back upon as being one of his finest performances to date.

Richard Taylor as Alan Turing, Matt Gibbons and Rob Broadhurst as Ron and Nikos

Shaking with a stammer and urgency to share his knowledge as Turing, this edgy and compelling performance, at time alone reeling off rafts of scientific theory, was in such a convincing manner that it was as Turing might have done it himself.

For once too, the support cast all looked and performed amazingly well in their parts. There was Tom Rees as Mick Ross, the dutiful `copper' oblivious to Turing’s world war achievements and never flinching from the letter of the law; Chris Kay as Christopher Morcom, Turing’s tragic school friend; Jen Eglington as the starchy yet compassionate Sara, Turing’s mother; and Matt Gibbons as Ron Miller, the shady chancer whose association brings down Turing and his, at that time, criminal homosexual activities.

There was Stephen Fletcher as Dillwyn Knox the assured pipe smoking leader of the Bletchley Park government installation, famous for breaking the Enigma machine code and John Smith played by Joe Harper, the slick haired spy like controller lurking and studying Turing’s indiscretions.

We then had Louise Fullwell as Pat Green, Turing’s only platonic female love interest, struggling to come to terms with his brilliance and his life choices and finally Nikos played by Rob Broadhurst and having to deliver his entire lines in Greek.

Like so many of Turing’s theories, there are so many things that cannot be mathematically proved leaving you with the fact that there is no wrong or right, only decisions that lead to a final outcome.

Every decision here works, the formula is complete. The choices from cast to costume from music to lighting and set have a net result of it being one of the best amateur productions I think I have ever seen.  To 27-02-16

Jeff Grant


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