Show review: “Alan Turing – A Musical Biography” at Riverside Studios

“Alan Turing – A Musical Biography” will be on at Riverside Studios until 27 January 2024. It’s a show that tells the amazing story of Alan Turing, acted by Joe Bishop with help from Zara Cooke. It was created by Joel Goodman and Jan Osborne, and the script was written by Joan Greening. The whole show takes about 80 minutes without any breaks.

Alan Turing - A Musical Biography at Riverside Studios

The verdict:

The musical features beautiful moments, showcasing Turing’s brilliance, the intensity of his relationships, and the societal challenges he faced. Joe Bishop’s performance is commendable, capturing the essence of Turing’s complexity.

A series of skilful songs:

The music in the show is really good, especially the songs that make important parts of Turing’s life more special. The feelings in the music make the story feel more real.

Run time and audience rating:

The show lasts for 80 minutes without a break and goes at a good speed. It’s okay for people aged 10 and up, but might be a bit tricky for younger kids. Even though it’s mostly suitable for families, some kids might not enjoy it. During the play, despite the lively songs, some people in the audience seemed to get a bit bored – there were even a few snores!

Development journey:

The journey of the production, outlined in the programme, reflects a commitment to refinement and improvement. From its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to the current iteration, the creators have responded to feedback, evolving the narrative. Riverside Studios’ dedication to experimental theatre deserves commendation, supporting spaces crucial for free speech and experimental art.

Intellectual exploration:

The exploration of Turing’s intellectual contributions to mathematics and computer science is enlightening. The production succeeds in portraying Turing as both a gifted mind and a victim of societal prejudices.

Tragic personal story:

The depiction of Turing’s personal struggles, including his persecution for his homosexuality, adds a layer of tragedy to the narrative. Showing how he was treated after the war makes us feel sorry for this brilliant person.

Script and Direction:

Joan Greening’s involvement in revising the script, along with the direction by Jane Miles, has brought depth and drama to Turing’s life story. Changing word-for-word quotes to a more dramatic style makes the whole theatre show better.

Enigmatic legacy celebration:

“Alan Turing – A Musical Biography” effectively encapsulates the enigmatic legacy of Turing, celebrating his triumphs and commemorating the enduring impact of his contributions.

Alan Turing the imitation game movie poster

Since watching the movie “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, I have been fascinated by Alan Turing and his work that saved millions of lives by intercepting German communications during the war, anticipating their moves. Turing should not only be considered a war hero but also seen as a national treasure from day one. Instead, it is shocking how he was treated by British society and authorities after the war. This shockingly sad story makes me angry every time I hear about it. It upsets me to think of this genius who was mistreated and left to die alone after being crucial in saving Britain from a very gloomy future under Nazi rule. Food for thought for all of us!

In its present form, the musical provides a poignant and theatrically rich experience. Despite certain historical limitations, “Alan Turing – A Musical Biography” succeeds in captivating its audience with the compelling narrative of an extraordinary mind.

The dedication to ongoing improvement looks promising for the production’s future developments.

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars





Who was Alan Turing?

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician, logician, and pioneer in the field of computer science.

As we delve into the narrative of his remarkable life, we discover a man whose intellect was both a gift and a burden, a mind that unlocked the secrets of codes and encryption while struggling against the constraints of societal norms.

Born on June 23, 1912, in Maida Vale, London, Alan Mathison Turing displayed his extraordinary intellectual prowess from an early age. His precocious talents were evident, and it wasn’t long before he found himself at King’s College, Cambridge, where he embarked on a journey that would forever change the landscape of modern computing.

Turing’s breakthroughs in the 1930’s laid the foundation for the theory of computation. His seminal work, “On Computable Numbers,” introduced the concept of the Turing machine, a theoretical model that became the cornerstone of modern computing. Little did the world know that this visionary mind would play a pivotal role in the Allied victory during World War II.

As war engulfed Europe, Turing’s genius was enlisted to crack the seemingly impenetrable codes generated by the German Enigma machine. Leading a team at Bletchley Fark, Turing developed the Bombe, a groundbreaking machine designed to decipher encrypted messages.

His efforts were instrumental in decrypting German communications, providing the Allies with crucial intelligence and altering the course of history.

However, Turing’s triumphs were overshadowed by the oppressive societal norms of the time. His homosexuality, considered a criminal offence in post-war Britain, led to his prosecution in 1952. Forced to undergo chemical castration as an alternative to imprisonment, Turing’s personal tragedy stands as a stark reminder of the injustices suffered by those who dared to defy societal expectations.

Despite the adversities he faced, Turing continued to contribute to the world of computing. His work on artificial intelligence and morphogenesis demonstrated the breadth of his intellectual curiosity. Tragically, Alan Turing’s life was cut short on June 7, 1954, leaving behind a legacy that would only be fully appreciated in the years to come.

In recent times, there has been a belated acknowledgement of Turing’s contributions to science and society. His posthumous pardon in 2013 and the official apology from the British government served as symbolic recognition of the injustice he endured.


We had to wait 59 years before seeing British authorities’ remorse on mistreatment of Alan Turing. Think, people, think!

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