REVIEW: Our Man In Havana succeeds in satire as Hornchurch becomes communist Cuba
11:40 18 February 2014
It’s mojitos, linen suits and fedoras aplenty at the Queen’s Theatre, in Hornchurch, as the resident actors deliver a gripping and laugh-out-loud funny adaptation of Graham Greene’s Our Man In Havana.
Set in pre-communist Cuba, we’re introduced to downtrodden vacuum-cleaner salesman Wormold, who is strapped for cash and attempting to cater for the lavish taste of his daughter, Beatrice - played by Alison Thea-Skot.
Sean Needham as Wormold is dragged unwittingly into a world of espionage by MI6 agent Hawthorne, played by Sam Pay, as Blightly take desperate action to find eyes on the island.
What follows is a farcical series of events as Wormold creates a host of fictional agents he ‘recruits’, before sending London into a panicked frenzy with his ‘top secret’ drawings of vacuum-cleaner parts.
The whole production relies on a cleverly choreographed sliding-door stage, with the rolling shutters acting as hotel room, lavatory and elevator doors - as well as concealing cast members.
Needham as Wormold drags audiences into his hapless character, spiralling out of control and falling deep into a web of his own lies while his daughter, played enthusiastically by Thea-Skot, pesters him for a horse.
Though Needham remains as Wormold throughout, the remaining three cast members flit expertly between characters and dialects - most notably, Sam Kordbacheh, who turns from Cuban police chief to Irish nun in the blink of an eye.
After stealing the show at last year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington, Sam Pay once again commands the stage with his ability to jump from imposing Hawthorne to the suspicious German, Dr Hasselbacher.
Directed by Bob Carlton, the production is successful satire on British intelligence and gives some insight into the antics, albeit it magnified, of the Cold War era.
Expect laughs, intrigue and suspense as the theatre’s in-house company of actors, Cut to the chase, once again triumph in providing a thoroughly engrossing and entertaining evening.
The show runs until February 22 at the theatre, in Billet Lane, with tickets priced between £16.50 and £23. To book, visit queens-theatre.co.uk.