Breaking The Code
Commissioned by Royal and Derngate Theatre, Northampton
By Hugh Whitemore,
Based on the book ‘Alan Turing, The Enigma’
by Andrew Hodges
Director: Philip Wilson
Designer / Filmmaker / Costume Designer: Pippa Nissen
Lighting Designer: Oliver Fenwick
Venue: Royal and Derngate Theatre, Northampton
First Performed: November 2003
The set uses two 6m wide suspended screens at an angle to each other, suspended over the actors on the stage. Below is a naturalistic reduced set of each scene – with carefully chosen furniture from each place and time. This is changed for each scene as a back wall is removed and a revolve brings round the next set of furniture.
The screens show stills or slowly moving images during the main scenes and during the scene changes (which last around a 30 seconds) the rhythm of the film gets faster as the actors walk around the set and the atmosphere of the scene changes. The play goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1920’s to the 1950’s and 60’s, between his memory and the present day.
This is represented in the set, film and costumes through colour and texture; early childhood is filmed in super 8mm, focused on a still image, so that the fragile quality of his family life is echoed in the film quality and saturated colours. Present day is a mixture of black and white and red, like the graphic techniques from the time where one colour is highlighted. There is also a gradual shift within the film images from naturalistic to abstract, as Turing’s world disintegrates until his final suicide at the end of the play.