"I should have played by the rules," utters Turing towards the end of Breaking the Code. Perhaps the cast and crew were thinking the same thing last Friday as their production got under way at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum, and portions of dialogue were drowned out by the sound of fireworks and rain drumming on the roof. Luckily, the rain didn't last and after a short while the crackers seemed to be perfectly timed to underscore climactic moments in the play. The set was as simple as a table and chairs, taking on the role of dining table, office, or interrogation room depending on which characters were present. While these instant shifts in setting and time are slightly jarring at first, Rhys Lawton as Turing does remarkably to maintain a sense of continuity and flow across the changes.
With the audience on three sides, entrances and exits at all corners of the room, and the drama playing through 360 degrees, there were inevitably times when some parts of the audience were watching the backs of the actors, but this adds to the fly-on-the-wall sensation as we watch the action unfold. The real genius of the venue and the set was placing it in the Steam Museum, with the giant engines lurking on all sides reflecting the 'machines' that litter the text: the Enigma machine, Turing's thinking machines, and most importantly the implacable justice system that pursues Turing and leads to the climactic scene of interrogation and confession.