Alan Turing’s life is told, with the help of his teddy bear, in the new play ‘Lovesong of the Electric Bear.’
Yes, you read it right. It’s a teddy bear called Porgy (Bryan Pilkington in a teddy bear suit) who guides Turing (and the audience) through the events in his life. From his life as a young boy in France, where he was a bit different from the other boys, to his time in Bletchley, where he created his machine which broke the German code during World War II. It’s a strange and unusual little show, currently playing in the small studio upstairs in the Arts Theatre on Great Newport Street, redesigned to look like a codebreakers bunker.
It’s a true story, written by the late Andrew Wilson. Turing evidently did have a teddy bear, and it’s the teddy bear in the opening sequence who awakens Turing from his deathbed and takes him through the journey of his life.
It’s an incredible journey, a journey we all know very well from last year’s hit film The Imitation Game, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing. Not much new information on Turing is provided in this production, but it’s the viewpoint of the teddy bear giving advice and opinion on every move Turing which makes is interesting to say the least. And it’s quite funny, and surreal, especially when Turing (played stoically and confidently by Ian Hallard) starts ‘dating’ Joan (an excellent Laura Harling), and he takes her to meet his parents, but it’s always the bear who is in the background giving advise and musing about Turing’s wrong decisions. And it’s also the bear who advises Turing to get far away from the rent boy (Chris Levens, very good in all the roles he plays in this show) that eventually brought upon Turing’s downfall. And of course we all know how it ends, and that’s the sad part, there was nothing the bear could have done for Turing, in the play and in real life. Turing’s was a life cut too short, he was a man too far ahead of his time.
Lovesong of the Electric Bear is playing at the Arts Theatre until November 21, 2015