Hatred on both sides

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4 stars

By David Hennessy

Benedict Cumberbatch can currently be seen playing code breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game but another portrayal can be seen at the Hen and Chickens theatre bar. Alan Turing is a character in Gary Kittle’s new play Walking Through Wire, presented by The Irish Network of Dramatic Arts, which explores homophobia on both sides of the second world war.

The film begins with a sadistic German officer calling two Jewish prisoners to his office. Gifting them with chocolate and then telling them it is poisoned, it is clear from the off that Joseph Kramer intends to play with them.

Kramer is a beast who has taken it upon himself to play God with these two unfortunate prisoners just because he is intolerant of Hans being gay and knows he can dominate the weak-willed Ernest. Kramer is excellently played by Ian Recordon.

The action boils to a tense end of the first act when the most awful action takes place offstage.

The next portion of the play is closer to home and finds Alan Turing talking to a fortune teller. Code-breaker Alan Turing, who should have been a national hero, is in the throes of tortuous chemical castration, having been convicted of homosexuality.

Through the conversation, the audience learns about his hardship but also why it touches a nerve with the reader. Susan Cummins plays the reader and although she faces away from the audience for most of her speech, she turns around when delivering the most hard hitting lines which let the audience in while also displaying her inability to look at Alan. Susan has an impressive list of credits and is also co-founder of the Irish Network of Dramatic Arts.

For the finale, the action returns to Nazi Germany where there may be a twist that it is not just his dominant officer that can not tolerate what Hans is.

With minimal set dressing and other distractions, this is a performance with the emphasis on performance and such productions are always enjoyable.

Directed by Tom Begley, the director of the short film Tax City and the award-winning Cold, this film highlights how far gay rights and acceptance has come.

Walking Through Wire is at The Hen and Chickens Theatre Bar until November 15.

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