A gripping biographical drama about homosexual scientist Alan Turing, the eccentric genius who fought on two fronts.
Turing played a major role in winning the World War II, and he also battled with British morality. He broke the complex German code called Enigma, enabling allied forces to foresee Nazi u-boat maneuvers.
Since his work was classified top secret for years after the war, no one knew how much was owed to him when he was put on trial for breaking another code - the taboo against homosexuality.
Turing, who was also the first to conceive of and basically invent the computer, the machine that forever altered our modern world, was convicted of the criminal act of homosexuality and sentenced to undergo hormone treatments which left him physically and mentally debilitated.
He died a suicide, forgotten and alone.
This play is about who he was, what happened to him and why.
Tickets Now Available at
The San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle puts
"Breaking the Code"
at the top of their "Go See" List!
GLAAD Media Award Winner
1 Sansome Street
San Francisco, CA 94104
Artistic director John Fisher, who also stars as Turing and directs the piece, wonderfully handles the production, which plays nicely in the quaint Eureka Theatre in San Francisco.
-- David John Chavez -- Bay Area Plays
"...compact, engrossing... Fisher’s performance as Turing is a tour de force as he shifts from adulthood to public school student, from insecurity with Pat to defiance of co-worker Dillwyn and then confusion in his love for the young hustler Ron."
"It's important that you catch the final weeks of this short run. Congrats to the cast and the amazing performance by the Rhino’s creative heart and soul Mr. John Fisher. "
-- Vince Mediaa -- VMedia
Like math itself, it draws you in as it burrows deeper, touching, at least lightly, on philosophy, impossible relationships, and the nature of identity itself.
This solid, entertaining effort raises some important questions, in a “Brideshead Revisited” atmosphere.
“Breaking the Code” is much more sexually frank than last year’s The Imitation Game.
A more sophisticated character is that of Turing’s lab partner and romantic foil Pat Green, played by the wonderful Gloria McDonald, who surely deserves an award for clearly and enchantingly reciting the complex inner workings of Enigma-decipherment while stalking the stage in heels, and later retaining a stiff upper lip while something as basic as the Fibonacci sequence is mansplained to her. She turns out to be breathtakingly open-minded for the times in terms of sexuality and its distinction from marriage. (“Pat Green” is actually a fictionalization of the real-life Joan Clarke, whose position as the only female member of the code-cracking team probably deserves its own play.)
Then there’s the wiry, energetic Fisher as Turing himself, taking on the huge task of bringing the dude to life, from fidgety, lovestruck schoolboy days, through Bletchley Park triumph, to sad, lonely end. As the narrative jumps around in time, some of the telegraphing grows a bit broad (chewing fingers means we’re in the presence of young Turing, sweater vests signal middle age), but Fisher takes a jumble of attributes — including a stammer — and assembles a credible, complex character who grows on us. You either want to slap him or cheer his blind courage when he casually reveals too much about his love life to the cops, which is a good sign he’s won us over. Good show.
John Fisher who plays Turing does incredibly well in his portrayal of the eccentric genius… Turing’s love interest in the show, Ron, played by Frank Wang, is very attractive and shirtless. - Joey Heal – www.sanfrancisco.antitwink.com
Hear John Fisher talk about "Breaking the Code" on KPOO-FM
John was interviewed on the "Let Me Touch Your Brain" program.
John starts about 1 minute and 30 seconds into the show.
Commons Live Talk Show Interview with John Fisher about Breaking the Code
The Critics Raved About the Rhino's Spring Production of Breaking the Code
Alan Turing comes to life in Breaking the Code .
Unlike the film, with a Hollywood spin and too-clever banter that leaves the audience wondering what really happened, Hugh Whitemore’s 1986 “Breaking the Code” – onstage at the Eureka Theatre in an elegant Theatre Rhinoceros production – is a far more satisfying and fulfilling depiction of the life of the scientist, whose admission of homosexuality in the 1950s derailed a remarkable (if little-known) life and career.
John Fisher does terrific double duty in the Theatre Rhino show, both directing and portraying Turing, the brilliant yet socially awkward character whose creativity, single-mindedness and iconoclasm posthumously earned him the title “father of computer science."
The ensemble wonderfully complements Fisher in Whitemore’s drama, which remains clear as it flashes back and forth. - Leslie Katz – SF Examiner
John Fisher doesn’t portray Turing. He instead inhabits the character’s body and makes him astoundingly authentic.
Not only is Fisher, the Rhino’s executive artistic director since2002, brilliant in his acting, his direction is equally luminous. He makes the play’s two hours race by, he ensures everyone’s British accent is consistent and easy to penetrate, and he draws the best possible performances from Celia Maurice as Turing’s doting but unenlightened mother, Sarah; Val Hendrickson as Dillwyn Knox, his supportive boss who personally doesn’t care if Turing goes “to bed with choir boys or cocker spaniels” but frets about what the authorities will think; Kirsten Peacock as his infatuated coworker friend Pat Green; and Justin Lucas as Ron Miller, Turning’s lover-user-betrayer. - Woody Weingarten – Marinscope / For All Events
★★★★ (4 stars) Everyone should see Breaking the Code for the acting, the characterizations, the set, the sexiness, the unconventional style.
In the present revival at Theatre Rhinoceros, Artistic Director John Fisher (who also directs) turns in a brilliant and stylish performance as Turing, afflicted by a stammer and all the hatred of eccentricity that the post-war years could muster. Turing stands up for himself in a lovingly rendered Cambridge classroom beautifully designed by Jon Wai-keung Lowe with secret doors suggesting sexual and legal oppression. Surprising exits, entrances, and shifts of time add to the mystery, with each actor creating a sprightly and memorable character, parts of the clockwork machinery that surrounds Turing.
We see his friendship with the scientist and mathematician Pat Green, played by the witty and sensuous Kirsten Peacock, whose every movement is subtle, clear, and engaging — a mathematician in a dancer’s body.
All of the actors are excellent. As Sara Turing, the mathematician’s mother who doesn’t quite get what all the fuss is about — math, codes, sex, coupling — Celia Maurice puts in a precise, witty performance. And Michael DeMartini excels as Inspector John Smith, a dour, saturnine, gloomy presence who enjoys twisting the knife in Turing’s heart while “doing his duty” for the British state. -Barry Horwitz – TheatreStorm.com
"As Turing, John Fisher is totally believable for each of the ages and stages of this man’s life. He adeptly handles the penitent and guilty, the suave and sexy, and the broken and desperate parts of his character. Mr. Fisher rises over and again to make Alan Turning a person we walk away knowing and caring about." - Eddie Reynolds – Theatreeddies Blog
With a cast led by John Fisher (who is steadily transforming into an old-fashioned actor-manager), Theatre Rhinoceros did a solid job of examining Turing's nervous downfall.
Celia Maurice was sympathetic as Turing's mother, Sara while Kirsten Peacock scored strongly as his research partner, Pat Green. As the gay men in Turing's life, Justin Lucas shone as Ron Miller with Heren Pateldelivering sweet portrayals of a very young Christopher Morcom and a slightly giggly young Greek named Nikos. Patrick Ross, Michael DeMartini, and Val Hendricksonappeared in smaller supporting roles. - George Heymont – My Cultural Landscape BLOG
Theatre Rhino's production of Breaking the Code, first staged in London in 1986, comes at a propitious time, as Turing's name is again in currency thanks to the movie The Imitation Game.
There are some particularly fine performances in featured roles, including Patrick Ross as a police detective who diligently if reluctantly unravels the true circumstances of a minor burglary that Turing has thoughtlessly reported. High marks, too, to Val Hendrickson as a comically addled wartime superior who turns serious when he, without moral judgment, warns Turing to show a little more discretion in his personal life. Kristen Peacock warms up the production as Turing's colleague with ill-aimed romantic intentions, and Justin Lucas and Heren Patel briskly enliven the play with two of the young men who at least temporarily switch off Turing's built-in abacus. - Richard Dodds – Bay Area Reporter (BAR)
Alan Turing is suddenly trendier than a gold smartwatch. Here Turing gets the biographical treatment in a revival of the 1986 Hugh Whitemore play with local theater legend John Fisher as Turing.
Fisher does an outstanding job capturing the fidgety awkwardness of a gay nerd in a world where his sexuality gets him charged with the crime of 'gross indecency.' The whole cast turns in remarkable performances as Turing’s various lovers, beards, colleagues and prosecutors.
Breaking the Code is memorable for its cast’s terrific performances - Joe Kukura –sfist.com
A Thought-provoking Production
John Fisher gives a marvelously genuine performance as Alan Turing.
John Fisher also sharply directs this production and he has taken these shadowy characters and made them come alive on stage.
Breaking the Code is a good old-fashioned, intelligent play and is multilayered in its examination of loyalty and national expediency.
The play version BREAKING THE CODE explores the deeper sexuality in the man Turing.
Theatre Rhinoceros company headed by artistic director John Fisher, who plays Turing, and also directed this superb theatre to bring this story to the Eureka stage in SF. The cast is wonderful and the 2 hour story is clearly as important today as it was in the late 80’s.
Alan Turing the father of commuter science and the centerpiece of the story in brilliantly performed by John Fisher - is a tour de force on stage - playing Alan from his teen years to his final years in the 50’s. Fisher plays this man with a spark that Turing may have felt, he is impressive and on stage most of the two hours.
Congrats to the cast and the amazing performance by the Rhino’s creative heart and soul Mr. John Fisher.
Fisher is a good actor and any show he sits out is an opportunity wasted.
While Turing is often portrayed as kind of a jerk, Fisher plays him as almost childlike, both naïve and cynical at the same time and stricken with nervous tics and a fleeting stammer – humane, compassionate, deeply sad likeness of someone both awesomely powerful and terribly fragile.
Fisher is always good, but this is the first time we've seen him commit to something wild enough that he reaches that charmed place where you forget you're seeing a performance. Breaking the Code comes to a beautiful kind of peace with itself without resorting to any kind of cop-out that softens the blow. It's a delicate and heartbreaking eulogy about the unfairness of the world.
The Rhino's Donald Currie wins Best Performance by a Leading Actor in THE HABIT OF ART
Congratulations to Donald Currie who won the Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor at the November 10th ceremony!
The Habit Of Art received three Theatre Bay Area Award Nominations including Best Production.
The other nominations were:
Best Production of a Play
Best Performance by an Ensemble
Terry Baum was nominated for Best Solo Performance in Hick: A Love Story. Hick was world-premiere production co-produced by Crackpot Crones and the Theatre Rhnoceros at the Eureka Theater.
Dave Dobrusky was also nominated for Best Musical Direction for Road Show.
Congratulations to all the nominees! We are very proud!
Pictured left to right: Tamar Cohn as Kay, Craig Souza as Carpenter, Donald Currie as Auden, Justin Lucas as Stuart, Kathryn Wood as George, and John Fisher as Britten
photo by Kent Taylor.
Catherine Brannigan Honored
Congratulations to Theatre Rhinoceros Board President Catherine Brannigan for winning the Distinguished Philanthropist Award at Blushing Orchid Ball in June, 2014. Catherine was honored for all her good work on behalf of The Rhino, the LGBT Community at large, and the San Francisco Health Care Community .
Catherine Brannigan holding her award,
flanked by Brian Sharber and Davis Gaines
John Fisher as Paul and
Maryssa Wanlass as Diane in
To Sleep and Dream.
Theatre Rhino Playwright Honored
To Sleep and Dream
by John Fisher
Wins San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
Excellence in Theater, 2013 Best Original Script
Award presented to John Fisher, May 5, 2014.
SFBATCC is a private non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and serving theatres of all types and sizes in the greater region by recognizing excellence and outstanding achievement in the field.
Active since 1976, the Circle consists of reviewers in all nine Bay Area counties, across various media, who are voted into membership by existing members based on the quality and consistency of their reviews. The Circle hosts an annual awards ceremony each Spring to celebrate superior work in the previous year.
SFBATCC named To Sleep and Dream byJohn Fisher the best script of 2013 at the awards banquet May 5th. Congratulations, John!
In Memoriam: José Julio Sarria (1923-2013)
We were saddened to hear of the passing of the great activist José Sarria.
In 2010 and again in 2011 we proudly presented a play about his life and struggles. One of the treats of that production was having him come see the show and getting to meet the man himself.
José blessed us in life and he will go on blessing all of us forever. His generosity and determination are an inspiration to all gay artists and activists.
José Sarria and John Fisher
from José 's special appearance at an April 28, 2010 performance of
"SexRev: The José Sarria Experience"
Tom Orr in "SexRev: The Jose Sarria Experience" Photo by Kent Taylor.
Tom Orr and Michael Vega in "SexRev: The Jose Sarria Experience"
Photo by Kent Taylor.
Foundations Supporting Theatre Rhinoceros
Theatre Rhinoceros is funded by the generosity of the following organizations:
San Francisco Grants for the Arts
The The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The San Francisco Art Commission
The Dramatists Guild
The Zellerbach Family Foundation
The James Hormel Foundation
The Horizons Foundation
The Bob Ross Foundation
The Walmart Foundation
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