Top Film “The Imitation Game” vs. “Breaking the Code,” the Best Play, Are About Alan Turing [Berkshire on Stage]

December 23rd, 2014, 1:00 pm by Sara
Part of the team at Bletchley Park that solved the Enigma Code.

Part of the team at Bletchley Park that solved the Enigma Code

Film Review and Commentary by Larry Murray

The Imitation Game opens this week on Christmas Day across the nation, but in the Berkshires, it will only be seen at the Triplex in Great Barrington. Apparently we will continue to have little reason to venture to the North Adams Multiplex, the Berkshire Mall or the Beacon in Pittsfield. I suspect that once again, films with gay content are being shunned. I hope I am wrong, but the continued drought in films with LGBT content is all too obvious at the big cinema operations. In Williamstown, Images sometimes fills in the gap, and in Pittsfield, the Little Cinema at the Berkshire Museum often screens films with intellectual, political and social depth. The Imitation Game has all three.

This is one of the top films of the year, with Benedict Cumberbatch taking on the role of Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Turing went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal since the days of Queen Victoria. In fact, some 40,000 Brits underwent chemical castration for being gay in the 20th Century. Turing committed suicide shortly thereafter, the effects of the drugs having also destroyed his intellect, which provided him his reason for living.

Those of us were fortunate enough to see the Barrington Stage Company production of Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore this past summer on its Pittsfield mainstage know his tragic story well. Under the direction of Joe Calarco, and with Mark H. Dold playing Turing, we not only learned of the life of Turing, but, unlike in The Imitation Game, got some deeper insights into his sexual identity. On stage we saw two men embrace and more, in the film we see two schoolboys challenge each other with codes and forbidden messages.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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THEATER: Mark H. Dold as Alan Turing in “Breaking the Code” at Barrington Stage Company [Berkshire on Stage]

July 23rd, 2014, 1:00 pm by Sara
Mark H. Dold and the cast of "Breaking The Code" (photo: Kevin Sprague.)

Mark H. Dold and the cast of “Breaking The Code” (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: If we had awards for theatrical achievement here in the Berkshires, I would immediately hand over the Best Actor in a Play award to Mark H. Dold for his tour de force portrayal of the complex and brilliant Alan Turing (1912-1954) in Breaking The Code, which is currently at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield. I understand that this was a role of great importance to him personally, and his dedication, commitment and hard work are evident.

Larry Murray: Yes, Dold is a major reason to see Hugh Whitemore’s play, it is a work that demands much from the person playing Alan Turing. In a pre-show interview, Dold summed up Turing this way: “He didn’t quite trust the human mind, it could be prone to make mistakes. He felt the only way to counter human error was to create a machine, a computer.”

And the play is designed as a bit of a puzzle starting in the middle, going back and forth in time and ending at the beginning, with his first true love.

Gail: Turing might admire the semi-cryptic style in which Whitemore has chosen to tell his life story.

Larry: Most people don’t know much about Turing, but he figured out how to break the Nazi enigma code and went on to develop the first computers and artificial intelligence. But tragedy was to be his lot, not because he was gay, but because he was honest about his homosexuality in England in the 1950′s when it was not only against the law, but terribly misunderstood, and considered a terrible security risk.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Mark H. Dold Is Both Hero and Outcast in Play About Alan Turing, “Breaking the Code” [Berkshire on Stage]

July 17th, 2014, 1:00 pm by Sara
Mark H. Dold

Mark H. Dold plays Alan Turing, founder of computer science, mathematician, philosopher, codebreaker, strange visionary and a gay man before his time who was horribly persecuted for his sexual orientation despite helping end a terrible war.

As the summer’s theatre season moves forward, Barrington Stage Company plans to take a look back in time to World War II and the days when simply being gay made you a worthless human being, no matter your contributions to society, or helping to win a war against fascism.

It’s just one more tough subject that is taken on by the award-winning theatre in downtown Pittsfield under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Managing Director Tristan Wilson.

The play is Breaking the Code, Hugh Whitemore’s biographical drama of Alan Turing, starring BSC Associate Artist Mark H. Dold. Directed by Joe Calarco, performances run from today (Thursday, July 17) through Saturday, August 2.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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