Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Mike & Sara Nower’s epic production of Breaking the Code outlines the hapless life and loves of Alan Turing, the wartime code-breaker and the father of British computing. On a commendably bare stage of a few black boxes, with a ‘groups-of-five’ backdrop, they succeeding in creating convincing depictions of time and space despite a fractured timeline after, before and during the war.
Jim Crozier was awesome as the stammering, mathematical genius, homosexual Turing trying to function in a world which tragically didn’t understand him or his work. Steve Holding was perfectly underplayed as the imperturbable policeman plodding his way to the truth of Turing’s illegal sexuality. Ivor Jevons used a well-developed sense of comic timing as the establishment ‘foil’ to Turing , and Catherine Kenton employed a delicious sense of a 40’s paramour to add a welcome, if ill-starred, love interest. Liam Collins as a casual pick-up, was the barb that eventually caught Turing, and Beth Walters played the baffled mother with great feeling.
Some of Jim Crozier’s long but key speeches were gripping for aficionados of code-breaking, but perhaps a trifle tedious – especially with the stammer - for the others. For me, the key scene was a truly explosive exchange between Turing and David Chilvers as a Greek pick-up where Turing poured out his secrets to the uncomprehending Greek, countered by a torrent of Greek, to the equally uncomprehending Turing.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The County connection was the cement holding this concert together. As we have come to expect from Christine Gwynn and the Writtle Singers, we were educated as well as entertained.
All the music had a specific link to Essex. The choir processed to the transept with Ward Swingle's take on Henry VIII: Pastime With Good Company, recalling not so much Beaulieu as clandestine trysts with Bessie Blount at Blackmore.
More secrecy at Stondon Massey, just up the road, where William Byrd wrote his setting of the Latin Mass, first sung in the safe seclusion of Ingatestone Hall. The Singers' Gloria grew in stature towards the end, while the Credo swelled to a wonderful affirmation of faith. The mass ended with an affecting, and beautifully judged, plea for peace.
Ralph Vaughan Williams' Mass in G minor for double choir was clearly influenced by Tudor church music, and it was lovely to hear it so soon after the Byrd. Some warm tones in the Gloria and Credo especially, with impressive solo work from within the choir.
Another obvious influence was folk music, and we heard Bushes and Briars, collected early in RVW's career, in the rural backwater of Brentwood.