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On a sunny Tuesday evening in Ipswich, after a sad news day, a trip to the theatre for Our Man In Havana at the New Wolsey seemed the perfect way to escape the outside world for two and a half hours.
The show is based on the Graham Greene novel of the same name, has been adapted for the stage by Clive Francis. We are set in Cuba 1958, following the life of Jim Wormold. A hapless vacuum cleaner salesman who gets sucked into 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; especially when he could do with the cash to pay for his teenage daughter’s ever increasing lifestyle.
Described as “an uproarious farce”, the premise sounded intriguing; except it didn’t play out quite so simply as it sounds. The plot came across confusing, with too many characters referenced and it seemed too drawn out, particularly in the first act. I thought it lacked punch, and considering I was expecting a farce, I didn’t laugh as much as I anticipated. Perhaps it would play out better to someone who was already a fan of the novel, or more familiar with the work of Graham Greene – unfortunately I was not familiar in the slightest.
That said, being held together by a cast of four, I was impressed by their talents. Charles David as Wormold was perfectly animated and created a character the audience empathise with; but for me it was Isla Carter as Milly/Beatrice (and other small characters) who stood out. I just felt her transition between each character was the most convincing and easy to differentiate. However, I commend them all for their efforts in playing multiple characters and driving the show forward.
The set, costume, lighting, props and design are also worthy of a mention, as I thought it worked well for the time period and helped in making it more visually interesting.
Overall, while it was good to escape reality for an evening, it wasn’t quite the show I was looking for. That’s not to say that because it wasn’t for me, it won’t be for you, because there is a talented cast attached and it’s worthy of a few laughs – especially with a localised joke (though, despite laughing, I did feel it didn’t quite fit well). If you want an insight into the average guy turned secret agent, that turns into quite a ridiculous and comic story, then this could be the show for you.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]Our Man In Havana runs at the New Wolsey Theatre until the 27th May. For more information or to book visit: www.wolseytheatre.co.uk.[/box]