Dance review: That is All You Need to Know
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: That is All You Need to Know at Zoo Southside (Venue 82), reviewed by Kelly Apter
There were many unsung heroes during the Second World War, but few went as unrecognised as the workers at Bletchley Park. Responsible for cracking Germany’s Enigma code, thousands of men and women then returned to their normal lives under a vow of silence.
Almost 50 years later, a group of determined local people took over the Buckinghamshire property, finally allowing the public to learn about the great work achieved there.
Switching between these two groups and eras, That Is All You Need To Know is a fascinating historical account, both personal and political. Performed with wit and gravitas by the excellent Idle Motion theatre company, the show blends inventive physical theatre with a narrative clarity that belies the subject matter’s complexity.
The major players at Bletchley Park, Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, are supplemented by other brilliant minds whose methodical work would baffle the majority. Crucially, these are played by women, highlighting the way gender boundaries briefly fell during wartime. The reality of their situation – back home afterwards with nothing to show for it, not even a reference – is made all the more poignant by voiceovers from the original workers.
With such a serious topic in their hands, Idle Motion could easily have lost themselves in a quagmire of mathematical sobriety. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Information about the urgent need to crack Enigma (the longer they took, the more people died) is delivered clearly and plainly. The 1990s action, featuring a comical committee thrown in at the deep end, provides just enough light relief to balance out the wartime heaviness.
Using a backscreen of visual images, to aid understanding and add to the show’s aesthetics, the company considers its audience from start to finish. Well researched and well executed, if all history lessons could be this clear and engaging, we’d all know a lot more about our country’s past.
Originally published in The Scotsman