Guilty of Love

Original Showing: Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Review By: Brian Merriman

By Jane Bramwell and Michael Brand
Directed and Produced by David Kettle
Hill Street Theatre, Edinburgh
Time 2.10pm
Duration 90 minutes

Alan Turing, one of the most wronged men, undone by the UK’s notorious 1885 Offences Against the Person Act, is the centre of this wonderful musical play. With a musical nod in places, to the construction of ‘A Little Night Music’ with it’s fine use of a Greek Chorus’ and some Gilbert & Sullivan patter, this story is a moving tribute to a man who helped end World War II with his work on cracking codes and inventing computers.

Jamie Sheasby steals your heart with his portrayal of Turing and all his complexities and integrity. He is a fine singer and never falters in expressing the difference that endears him to an audience. ‘This thoughtful plotline does terrific justice to the schoolboy love story that sustained Turing throughout his life. No one knows if a first love lasts, but Head boy ‘Christopher Morcom’ gets his voice beautifully here in this plot with a lovely portrayal by Alan Hornyak, who also doubles up with a scored narrative, equivalencing the experience of another misunderstood man 2000 years ago.

The staging is somewhat static, with characters being positioned to convey their next scene, and the placing in the Courtroom scene did not work well. The Greek chorus which also plays a multitude of characters is a powerful and reliable presence throughout. The strong score, beautifully arranged is delivered with tuneful clarity by six players Caitlin Downie, Alasdair Baker, Helen Holman, Rhys Anderson, Joanna Harte and Stephen Wren, proving as always it is quality and not quantity that does the greatest justice to good music.

Justice is of course absent from the Turing story. We meet many good people along the way, who were ahead of their time in understanding the genius of difference and difference in love. Mrs Morcom, The Commander, The Defence Counsel and the one-time fiancée a beautifully sung Joan, all stand out at times, but as with every good musical, the ensemble work shines consistently throughout. 

This is a fine modern piece of musical theatre that would behold any company of 8 talents to produce. Everyone has a real contribution to make and its unpeeling of the catastrophe of prejudice is calmly but firmly played out, with a sense of inevitability that heightens the ultimate loss. 

Turing was a real hero, a hero of truth, a genius at numbers. The final ignominy in his story is that he was pardoned in recent years for his crimes. That in itself is another act of arrogance. In truth, it is he that needs to pardon the system which so cruelly turned its back on his genius and his humanity. If you don’t know the story, you will after seeing ‘Guilty of Love’. It is a beautiful musical construction of a true story, innovatively scored and performed with real style and authenticity. If Turing cannot pardon the system, he is greatly honoured in this musical homage – 90 minutes of the best of musical theatre.