Presented by Stirling Players
Reviewed 21 September 2018
In the beautiful setting of 1950’s Havana, a hapless British salesman is thrown into the foreign world of espionage during the corrupt Fulgencio Batista regime.
Unsuccessful vacuum cleaner salesman, Mr Wormold, has lived in Havana for over 15 years but never truly made his mark. With his business failing (turns out there’s not a huge market for vacuum cleaners in Cuba) Wormold struggles to provide for all his daughter’s extravagant desires and is drawn into the world of espionage by the promise of good pay. Unfortunately, this role for MI6 means he’ll also have to spy on his close friend, Dr. Hasselbacher, a German scientist and World War 1 veteran. After Wormold reports the discovery of a secret military installation in the Cuban mountains, the Secret Service decide to send him a secretary to help.
Our Man in Havana, originally written as a novel in 1958 by Graham Greene, is a black comedy that pokes fun at MI6 and other British spy agencies and their willingness to believe everything their informants feed them. The play’s characters bear some resemblance to those of other famed British comedies such as the hapless Basil Fawlty and the dim-witted Manuel from Fawlty Towers, but within a 1950’s Cold War context.
Director, Dave Simms, utilises a fairly basic backdrop by conscripting his cast into the many scene and prop changes and even includes them humorously as props themselves and sound effects in some scenes (a lamp, record player and cars). This choreographed chaos perfectly mirrors not only the chaotic mess that Wormold has gotten himself into, but also the frenetic world of Cuba itself.
It’s impressive that in a cast of only 6 (plus the talented musical musings of guitar player, Marduk Gault), the actors seamlessly transition between at least 20 characters including the shared role of narrator. Thankfully, each actor gives their individual characters a distinct personality, making it easy for the audience to distinguish who’s who within a criss-crossing plotline. A special mention must be made of Joshua Coldwell’s portrayal of a sassy and demanding prostitute which left the audience in stitches of laughter.
Our Man in Havana provides a comically entertaining night at the theatre, capturing the black humour of British haplessness perfectly while providing an engaging Cold War storyline.
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Venue: Stirling Community Theatre,
Season: 21 Sept – 6 October
Duration: 2.5 hours (15 min interval)
Tickets: $16 – $22