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Saturday 08 April 2017

Review: Pardon me Alan Turing

Posted in: Entertainment
By Aatir Zaidi - 22nd February 2017

It takes a lot of effort to create a period theatre production. Moreover, if the theatre production is part of the Fringe Festival, the Auckland Pride Festival, based on historically true events and involves prominent actors, there is a lot of responsibility involved.


Thankfully, Pardon Me Alan Turing does justice to it all. The production takes you back in time and draws a parallel narrative of differences and similarities between past, present and future.

The play begins with a present day conversation between Daniel (David Capstick) and Ben (Andrew Parker) about thousands of men prosecuted by the government for homosexuality. It then goes on to show the events in the life of Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde that caused trouble because of their sexuality. Throughout the show, there are glances of their family life and conflicts. On one hand, we are shown Alan’s family situation, where his mother Sara (Jacqui Whall) and his brother John (Andrew Parker) hesitate when talking about homosexuality and shame him for being different. On the other hand, we see Wilde stuck in a heterosexual marriage with Constance (Jacqui Whall) and having an affair with Bosie (Andrew Parker). Stephen Lunt has created a really unique style by putting Alan and Oscar face to face on stage. The characters are funny and serious at the same time. It is almost like seeing two best friends talk about their experiences.

Even though Pardon Me Alan Turing is based on historic events it is still relevant to the present situation, but unfortunately, there were hardly any young people sitting in the audience - something which I’d highly recommend they do. Remember, without past struggles there is no future. Freedom and equality is won by hard struggle.

Both Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde received criminal convictions because of their sexuality. In 2013, Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon and Wilde was pardoned on January 31 2017, along with more than 50,000 men as the UK Government announced a clause in the new policing and crime bill which extends pardons to men who have passed away.

Pardon Me Alan Turing raises some serious questions. Simply granting a pardon doesn’t do much for people who were wrongly convicted. There has been no acknowledgement by the UK government regarding the experiences of these men - something which is explored in this play. It is not only about the experiences of Turing and Wilde, but also the experiences of thousands of men.

The play also explores a question raised by so many people recently, does a pardon mean agreeing with government that these men had done something wrong in the first place?

There are so many good moments in this production. All in all, the play is a must-see, especially during Pride month and following the recent pardoning of homosexual men in both New Zealand and the UK. It will give you food for thought and leave you thinking about where we go now. Joseph Wycoff (Alan Turing), Geoff Allen (Oscar Wilde) and David Capstick (Daniel) steal the show. Jacqui Whall, who plays both Rachel and Sara Turing, is hilarious. Unfortunately though, the flamboyant character of Bosie is over the top and gets a little annoying at times.

If you want hard-hitting drama and to get into a serious discussion about LGBTI rights in both the past and present , watch Pardon me Alan Turing.

Aatir Zaidi - 22nd February 2017

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