by Rita Charleston
Alan Turing was an eccentric genius who played a major role in winning the Second World War by breaking the complex German code called Enigma. He was also the first person to conceive what was to become the modern-day computer. Following the war he was arrested, tried and convicted for breaking yet another code — the British law that declared homosexuality to be a crime. (This story is familiar to anyone who saw last year’s superb Academy Award-nominated movie, “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, also Oscar-nominated, as Turing.)
“Breaking the Code,” based on Turing’s life, was written by Hugh Whitemore and directed by Robert Bauer. It is being staged at the Allens Lane Theater, Allens Lane near McCallum Street, on weekends, from May 1 to 16. Performing the role of Sara, Turing’s mother, is local actress Carole Mancini.
“Sara Turing was very much a woman of her time, a time in society during the 1920s and ’30s when the husbands made all the rules,” explained Mancini, who requested that her age not be mentioned. “It was certainly not a matriarchal society, and in Sara’s case she was forced to leave her two young children behind in England and go off with her husband to India where he worked for the Indian Civil Service. Alan was not quite two years old at the time when Sara left him, but she had no choice. Her lifestyle dictated her behavior. She had a cold facade, but later on we see her break down.”
Meanwhile, in order to cope, young Alan went into survival mode. “He lived and loved mathematics. They were his friends, unchanging and always there. They were his comfort and became part of his genius.”
Born in London, England, herself, Mancini said her love affair with theater began early in life. “I think it all started when I was very little and got to play an angel in a Christmas play with no lines at all, to the age of nine when I had a whole script to say. And that’s when I got the bug.”
That love continued to grow as Mancini entered an all-girls high school and appeared in school plays. “I joined the drama club and continued to act. I was tall, so I never got to play the pretty, petite princess. I always appeared in character parts, but that was fine with me because they were always much more fun.”
When she left high school, the lure of acting was still there, so Carole joined a local drama club to continue sharpening her skills. “But then life has a way of giving you husbands and babies, and so for many years I gave up the theater because I just didn’t have the time or the opportunities,” she recalled.
Eventually, in 1977, Mancini made her way to the U.S. when her then-husband, a physician, decided to come here to take a position as a medical director. Later, divorced with two young daughters, Mancini decided to try her luck in the theater once again.
This time it worked. Now remarried to a retired TWA pilot and living in Doylestown, Mancini has been seen in many regional productions and industrial videos. This is her fourth appearance at Allens Lane (her last one was recently in “The Lady from Dubuque”), and she said she’s enjoying every minute of it. And when she’s not acting, she works as a geriatric care manager and consultant mainly in Bucks County and beyond.
“I think one job confirms the other,” she said. “One makes me use the left side of my brain, and the other uses the right side. And both bring me incredible joy. I have great passion for the older clients I work with similar to the passion I have for my character, Sara, who suffered much of her life in silence. I feel compassion for her and for all the client and their families that I work with. I feel extremely fortunate to have the life that I have.”
For more information, call 215-248-0546 or visit www.allenslane.org.