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Our Man in Havana
July 11th - July 15th
Creative Cow presents
Our Man in Havana
Adapted by Clive Francis
“You should dream more, Mr. Wormold. Reality in our century is not something to be faced.”
Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana
Cuba 1958. Meet Jim Wormold – a hapless vacuum cleaner salesman who gets sucked in to a dirty world of espionage and double agents when the chance of helping out MI6 with a job or two proves too good an offer to resist. And, quite frankly, he could do with the cash to pay for his teenage daughter’s ever increasing lifestyle.
From the company who brought us Travels With My Aunt and thrillingly adapted for the stage by Clive Francis, this uproarious farce is filleted to perfection from Graham Greene’s hilarious, subversive and ever popular novel.
Produced by Creative Cow in association with Malvern Theatres and Buxton Opera House.
★★★★ “Our Man in Havana is a tasteful, intelligent and mesmerising interpretation of Greene’s well-loved novel.” West End Wilma
Wonderful evening's entertainment, great adaptation and great performances from strong cast, on simple but very evocative set. Some priceless comic moments, hope the actors actually had as much fun as it looked like they were having! Many thanks all round, we loved it.
Cuba is one of many countries which Graham Greene visited, so it is not a huge leap of faith that his play Our Man In Havana, adapted and updated here by Clive Francis, contains more than a grain of truth, particularly as he had met Fidel Castro on a number of occasions (as well as Kim Philby) and was himself in MI6. It could equally have been entitled The Reluctant Spy as poor Wormold (Charles Davies) is really just a struggling vacuum cleaner salesman who is suddenly caught up in the world of espionage by the British Government who enlists his aid. Fortunately this reluctant spy has a good imagination as, in order to receive his payments, he decides he will invent a range of fictitious "agents" and for each one, he is rewarded handsomely. He also uses his vacuum cleaner parts to convincingly replicate "weapons of mass destruction". Until, that is, the Government sends him a secretary, Beatrice (Isla Carter), from whom he has to hide his innocently devious actions.
Oddly enough, this is not pure fiction as Greene based the scenario on real life where a number officers sent imaginary reports from imaginary agents, though the code-breakers in Bletchley were soon onto it…
Creative Cow presents the show (made in association with Malvern Theatres and the Buxton Opera House) with just 4 actors. The play, however, contains 30 characters so it is down to the skill of the actors to rapidly change roles (apart from Davies who plays exclusively Wormold) and this is achieved brilliantly, often by simply changing hats or accent and sometimes by a complete change of clothing. And this is achieved on a stage where the scenery is moving around as rapidly as the characters change. Michael Onslow is particularly adept at this, playing not just his main role of Captain Segura (who is intent on marrying Wormold's young daughter),but many others including a bank teller and our Queen (!), whilst other cast member James Dinsmore also has to contend with a number of roles, including the MI6 boss Hawthorne and the German Hasselbacher. In addition to the characters they play, each actor also becomes the narrator at various points, explaining the story as it unravels.
Creative Cow are no beginners at the art of successfully presenting plays with limited number of actors in a somewhat quirky but thoroughly enjoyable fashion, having recently brought both Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Greene's Travels With My Aunt to Malvern and the actors involved know they are going to have to work hard throughout the length of the play. The rapid change of characters and scenery is done to perfection and includes a couple of very funny set pieces involving a car and escaping through a window.
Well worth going to see for this very funny slice of Grahame Greene's view on life, especially as it is the last week of the show and deserves a rousing send-off!
Our own David Bower had a chat with James Dinsmore and discovered he also has a love of opera…
You can hear the chat here:
Our first visit to Malvern as a group of four ranging in age from 21 to 62. Not having read the novel we were a little confused at first by the rapid plot changes and dialogue but settled in to appreciate the cleverly choreographed scene changes and multiple personalities of just four actors. The second half really warmed up with the plot coming together. Enjoyed the hilarious car sketch, dancing with a nod to 'singing in the rain' and brief appearance of Her Majesty. Well done.
I should have written before but was so stunned how bad 'Our Man in Havana' was. There seemed little resemblance of Greene's book & my partner & I could not raise a laugh at all in the first half. The theatre was half empty.
I have been to Malvern Theatre many times & enjoyed all bar this one & never grudged the ticket prices. These tickets I did.
Unfortunately I did not see the Malvern Gazette review but doubt it gave a higher rating than mine own - dreadful.