A Man From The Future is the title that pop legends Pet Shop Boys chose to celebrate code-breaker Alan Turing. The occasion for the duo to present their work was this year’s BBC Proms. Joined on stage by actress Juliet Stevenson, rock singer Chrissie Hynde, the BBC Singers and the BBC Orchestra, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe come up with an awkward yet intriguing show about the life and work of Turing.
Opening the show at the Royal Albert Hall was Richard Nile‘s orchestral medley of Pet Shop Boys’ greatest hits (from It’s A Sin to West End Girls), before bringing in on stage Angelo Badalamenti for the Four In A Minor section. Love Is A Catastrophe, Later Tonight, Vocal and Rent were orchestrated by the legendary film composer, who transformed the four originally synthesised pop tunes to – maybe excessively – slow-paced orchestral pieces where Chrissie Hynde and Neil Tennant offered an interesting duet and a different spin on the songs, quite distant from the original versions.
The third premiere of the evening was finally the highly anticipated A Man From The Future, inspired by the life and works of code-braker Alan Turing, also famous for openly admitting his homosexuality at a time when being gay was a crime against the law. Turing received a Royal Pardon only this year (he died of cyanide poisoning after undergoing chemical castration following his prosecution for homosexual acts in 1952), so the Boys’ celebration of the British genius occurred on perfect timing.
A perfect mix of music and narrative, the show is divided into eight parts, each one focusing on a different area of Turing’s life. What makes it different from any other narrated music show, though, is the fusion of 80s pop music with classical music where at times the voices sound like synthesised instruments. Actress Juliet Stevenson showed all her expertise in mastering the narration – adapted from Andrew Hodges’ biography of Turing – spectacularly matching an impressively arranged music accompaniment.
A truly innovative show that may pave the way for a change in live performances, just as Turing’s works and courage did for society.