Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: The Shoemaker of Havana

Brilliantly devised and written piece, worthy of the singing talents of the cast

Brilliantly devised and written piece, worthy of the singing talents of the cast

Presented by: Nuworks: theatre made in Australia

Reviewed: 8 March, 2024

This show was a fantastic introduction to the Nuworks style of community theatre. They are a diverse, not for profit group who write, devise and also compose the music for their productions. I was initially surprised at the size of the cast, 13, but all those voices provide a rousing chorus and create a wonderful atmosphere as they sing.

Clever back, and side, projection of people, places and events works very well on the small stage with the only set being an ancient Singer treadle sewing machine and numerous chairs. I was pleased to see the audience was credited with enough imagination to ‘fill in the gaps’ with such a basic set and props. 

The Shoemaker is now 72 years old and is leaving Cuba as a disappointed and disillusioned man, moving to Argentina. Alvaro had always supported the revolution, even making shoes for Fidel, brother Raúl and Che. He takes us through the history of the Cuban revolution, including the Bay of Pigs invasion and the missile crisis of 1962 and the wonderful benefits it brought such as almost universal literacy. 

As it is their main trading partner, Cuba is devastated when the USSR begins to unravel and the USA imposes ever stricter sanctions and embargoes. Vignettes of particular events are brilliantly presented such as the ‘Honey Trap’ the CIA attempts to use to assassinate Castro, and the fiery relationship between Castro and his daughter where she berates him for torturing and killing thousands of women in the name of the revolution. 

All the actors, directors and technicians deserve a great round of applause for such a sterling show – funny, sad, moving and educational all in one. I will be on the lookout for any future productions which Nuworks brings to Adelaide. 

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Venue: Star Theatre Two at Star Theatres
Season: ended

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