REVIEW: ‘Breaking the Code’ at Falcon

'Breaking the Code' at the Falcon is a thought-provoking production, a reminder of Turing's remarkable legacy and the injustices he endured.

By Liz Eichler

Breaking the Code, produced by Newport’s Falcon Theatre, is a riveting exploration of the life and struggles of Alan Turing, brilliantly portrayed by Rick Grant in his Falcon debut.  This fast moving biographical drama, well-paced  by director Ed Cohen, delves into the complexities of Turing’s genius and the injustices he faced due to his sexuality.

Tour de Force Performance

Grant’s portrayal of Turing is mesmerizing. (This CCM graduate has returned to the Cincinnati area, after a career in acting and earning his doctorate in psychology.) His performance is captivating from start to finish, capturing the essence of an eccentric genius while bringing depth and authenticity. Audiences may find some similarities with Sheldon Cooper of TV’s Big Bang Theory, but there is more to Turing. He explains his philosophy to a school audience: his life’s focus is to see “if machines can think.” Therefore, he lives in the binary–either 0s or 1s. His lifestyle is good for him–why are there rules against it? (Does not compute.)

Turing demonstrates his ”tenacity and moral fiber” throughout. The show takes us from Turing’s groundbreaking work for his government on the Enigma code, to glimpses of his childhood love and loss, to his mother, to a female alliance, to the relationship that lead to his being arrested for “gross indecency.” Grant navigates his character’s journey fluidly.

Rick Grant and Ted Weil in Breaking the Code.
Rick Grant and Ted Weil in Breaking the Code.

‘Breaking the Code’ Supporting Cast

The supporting cast delivers commendable performances. Linda Callahan as Sara Turing provides a crisp and compelling portrayal of his mother. Rachel Mock lights up the stage as the devoted co-worker–and purported fiance. Lawson Smith as Ron Miller captures the quiet, brusque, streetwise young man who attracts Turing’s attention. Falcon’s Artistic Director Ted Weil takes a turn on stage as investigator Mick Ross. Forest Fairley blusters appropriately as Dillwyn Knox. Parker Culp, Ron Cropper, and Elias Dean are also featured, solidly providing key moments in Turing’s story. 

The Script

Hugh Whitemore’s 1986 script lays out Turing’s contributions to the war effort and the beginnings of Artificial Intellegence. It explores the prejudice he faced due to his sexuality, perhaps more effectively than the movie “Imitation Game.” The structure does not unfold chronologically; it switches repeatedly between time periods–between Turing’s early life and his present. (In some productions, Turing is played by three different actors, but Grant transitions fluidly between them all.) Because some scenes are fully explored and addressed, the ending feels a bit cobbled together and rushed.

The Creative Team

The scenery (Ted Weil, Ed Cohen) is effective and simple; a series of screens with computer printouts provide the backdrop. Wooden chairs are maneuvered around. The clacking sound of a large computer punctuates the scene changes. Period clothing (Rachel Scardina, Costumes) fits the characters well.  (My wish is that the ladies’ heels get some felt to dampen the sound.) 


Breaking the Code is a thought-provoking production–with a lot of computer science explanations above my pay grade–but it is never confusing. It is a reminder of Turing’s remarkable legacy and the injustices he endured.


Performances of Breaking the Code are at 8:00 pm. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays though March 30. Run time: 2 hours and 30 minutes. (Some adult themes.) Tickets can be purchased online at

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