First off, I suppose I should preface all of this with the statement that I haven’t seen The Imitation Game and to be honest I didn’t really know (and still don’t) know an awful lot about Alan Turing. Thursday and Friday changed that, and I hope to be able to learn more about him in the future.
Lovesong of the Electric Bear is simply an amazing piece of work. It’s hysterically funny, charged and moving, and terribly, terribly sad. And it all takes place in a theatre the size of my living room, making it incredibly intimate.
Ian Hallard, as Turing, is flawless. We are taken on a journey from his young life as a lad at boarding school, to war hero, marathoner, and beyond. Through it all, you can see the struggle of someone who was rather uncomfortable in his own existence. Hallard’s portrayal speaks volume to this, in the fidgets and nervous tics that are expressed throughout. The entire time, there is an undercurrent of sadness and turmoil that peaks right before the interval, in a nightmare where Turing is tormented and exposed bare (quite literally) for all of us to see.
There is laughter in the sorrow, most expressively so in the J. Edgar Hoover cabaret scene. Those red dresses are fabulous and the entirety of the scene is hilariously surreal.
It comes quickly to a head as he is betrayed and let down by the country he served and protected. While not everyone in his life has vilified him, Turing feels so increasingly hopeless that he takes his own life.
While many of the scenes are so raw, the last one is the most so. Both evenings I had to consciously keep from sobbing as the life drains from him, and his dear teddy bear is inconsolable in his grief.
It may seem odd that a representation of an inanimate object evoked such emotion, but Porgy’s self-evisceration was as gut-wrenching as Turing taking a bite of the poison apple, echoing back to images of his childhood earlier depicted.
Lovesong of the Electric Bear only runs for another 2 weeks, so if you are in London or are going to be in London, I would run to the theatre to see it. it is truly an amazing piece of work and I feel extremely blessed and honoured that I was able to see it twice.
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