Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Our Man In Havana - Theatre Royal, Brighton

Our Man in Havana
Writer: Graham Green
Adaptor: Clive Francis
Director: Richard Baron
Reviewer: David Saunders

This frenetic quick change entertainment has all of the elements that are needed for these harsh economic times. This is a bright, inventive fun slice of spy comedy for a dull November evening.

The piece begins slowly with each member of the cast easing into their multiple roles. The piece revolves around the lead character of Wormold played by Simon Shepherd. Best known for his TV appearances the actor shows energetic buoyancy in the role mixing light comedy with the more farcical elements with skill and just enough subtlety to communicate the heavier moments of the piece. The rest of the cast Phillip Franks, Norman Pace and Beth Cordingly fill out the meat of the piece playing large number of quick fire comedic roles from drunken airplane pilots to saucy senoritas.

Once plot has been established it really does rattle along and the comedic punches come thick and fast. This is comedy Theatre of the highest order, if you don’t like the last gag there will be another along in a few seconds. The excellent adaptation of Graham Greene novel by Clive Francis allows the actors a solid set of verbal gymnastics to hang the meat of their performances. The text is dense but never to the point where it is laboured fizzing through the layered story with wit verve and style.

The design and technical elements are streamlined and functional while adding an economical extra layer to the piece as a whole and there are some inventive touches to match the words on the page and the performances of the company.

The direction by Richard Baron is slick and unfussy maintaining the same economy of movement and subtle theatrical trickery while allowing the actors room to manouver their way around the characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening out but did find myself wondering why given my no longer youthful years I was by a clear 20 years the youngest member of the audience. It is comforting to know that there are still people working to create work that is entertaining, original and funny but not so comforting to know that the only people aware that it is happening appear to be over fifty. I suppose that says more about the state of the nation that anything else.

runs until Sat 7th Nov
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