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Pink Milk at Oracle Theatre: Theater review

An abstract bio of Alan Turing is packed—perhaps too much so—with intriguing notions.

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Photograph: Nate Bartlett

Carrie Drapac and Aaron Stephenson in Pink Milk at Oracle Theatre

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Photograph: Nate Bartlett

Pink Milk at Oracle Theatre

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Photograph: Nate Bartlett

Pink Milk at Oracle Theatre

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Photograph: Nate Bartlett

Cole Doman in Pink Milk at Oracle Theatre

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Photograph: Nate Bartlett

Aaron Stephenson and Cole Doman in Pink Milk at Oracle Theatre

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Photograph: Nate Bartlett

Aaron Stephenson and Darren Barrere in Pink Milk at Oracle Theatre

Alex Paul Young's intriguing gay fantasia on the life of Alan Turing presents an abstract take on the father of computer science, concentrating on his romantic life and punctuated by dance breaks. Young is particularly interested in Turing's childhood relationship with schoolmate Christopher Morcum, who died of bovine tuberculosis (obliquely providing the play's title) but here remains a defining presence in Turing's life.

As earnestly played by Aaron Stephenson and Cole Doman, Alan and Christopher are shy boys devoted to their studies—Alan to science, Christopher to music—who spark an undeniable attraction in each other: As Christopher attends to his piano lessons, Alan feels "jealous of the keys." Alan's devotion to scientific discovery is depicted as the building of a series of robots, which are portrayed by the same actor (the slight, mustachioed Darren Barrere) who plays a series of boys with whom Alan has tentative sexual encounters following Christopher's loss; Barrere's character is listed as "The Experiments."

Brandon Powers's stylish staging makes good use of Oracle's small space, and the dance elements, which Powers also choreographs, are engaging and well executed (ensemble member Charlie Kolarich stands out in this capacity). Cassie Bowers's handsome costumes include a number of clever touches, and Stephenson's ultra-innocent take on Turing compels.

If anything, Pink Milk suffers slightly from a surfeit of interesting ideas. Young packs his script so densely with metaphors—Alan's nosebleeds, apples both poisoned and non–, weaponized robots, talking daisies—that his story can seem to be drowning in imagery. Yet this alluring Turing has me eager to see what's next from this collection of young artists.

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