Friday, December 1, 2023

Review: Our Man in Havana a cracker

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HILARIOUS: From left, Daniel Tizzard-Close waits of Hasselbacher (Andrew Maher), Milly (Emily Briggs) and Mr Wormold (Andrew Johnson) in Havana. Photo supplied.

I’ve always wanted to travel to Cuba.

Cheers to you, Howick Little Theatre, for helping me tick that one off the bucket list – 1950’s style.

I’ve chosen three ways to describe HLT’s must-see production of Our Man in Havana, because if I’m honest, one simply doesn’t seem like enough.

Hilariously witty, exceptional in presentation and wonderfully engaging.

The spy satire filled to the brim with humour tells the story of Jim Wormold – an underemployed vacuum cleaner salesman in 1950’s Cuba who is struggling to pay for his teenage daughter’s extravagant lifestyle.

When the British Secret Service request his services as their man in Havana, he simply can’t afford to say no, but in a comical turn of events worthy of a Mr Bean-style spinoff show, it becomes painstakingly obvious Mr Wormold doesn’t have a clue how to be a secret service agent.

From improvised excuses in his dealings with Cuban police, amusing sales pitches for vacuum cleaners and an innate ability to escape being poisoned by his rival, Mr Wormold keeps the entertainment levels rocketing sky high as he journeys through what it means to be their man in Havana.

With a half-eaten Kapiti icecream in hand, I sat in the middle of the packed theatre, watching actors young and old showcase an exceptional standard of versatility, talent and passion.

Director Pam Browne once told me she wanted the show to provoke thought through comedy rather than a direct statement of facts, and that’s exactly what she’s done with Our Man in Havana.

She’s pulled off an outstanding performance – seamlessly intertwining the storyline and cast with technical excellence to create a theatrical masterpiece you don’t want to miss.

If Cuba’s not on your bucket list, that’s cool. I wouldn’t dare hold it against you.

But if you’re down for a good laugh in 1950’s Cuba, I suggest you add a travel stop to the temporary bucket list, and get along to Our Man in Havana, showing at Howick Little Theatre until May 27.

You may just find you’ve changed your mind.

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