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February 4, 2014

Sean Needham Alison Thea-Skot wONE of Graham Greene’s most thoughtful plays, Our Man In Havana, is getting a good showing in Hornchurch for the next few weeks.

Noted for his sardonic humour spanning the banal to the frightening, Greene’s work is always worth reading and seeing, and such is the case at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch.

One of the many joys of his writing is the way he controls his reader’s emotions with absurd situations with an underscoring volcano of Armageddon waiting to burst through the surface.

For readers, the need to keep turning the pages leads to fast reading then going back to see what you glossed over.

More often than not, it turns out to be a myriad of other avenues all creating a finale.

Not an easy job to transfer from the mind to the stage, and they did a very reasonable job on the interpretation, at the same time creating a good watchable play in the first of the spring season.

Once again the quality of the acting was at the forefront with two remarkable performances from Sam Kordbacheh and Alison Thea-Skot ably supported by Sean Needham and Sam Pay. (above Sean Needham and Alison Thea Skot. Pic Nobby Clark)-

For those who know the book may wonder how four actors portrayed 28 characters with remarkably good costumes, and changed in the mere closing of a  slatted scenery door. (below. Sam Pay, Sam Kordachen and Sean Needham. pic Nobby Clark)

Sam Pay Sam Kordbacheh Sean Needham wIt was fast and furious and also funny, enhanced by Sam and Thea extracting every ounce. Sam reaching the heights in his 11 characters from the evil police chief to a fully gowned Reverend Mother and all in the blinking of an eye, and Thea from spoilt teenage daughter to a Secret Service secretary.

Sean Needham was Wormold, the Vacuum Salesman high earning spymaster with a non existent team spies and the object of Green’s wicked humour. The absurd idea that sketches of a dismantled cylinder vacuum cleaner could be taken for a hidden mountain Nuclear plant was one beautifully highlighting that people believed what they wanted to believe.

In the play Wormold’s sketches led something akin to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 seeing the world teetering on the brink of Nuclear War.

Having worked for MI6 during the war his interpretation of the way the secret services went about its business was a prime example of British humour where the stupid comes close to reality.

Sam Pay had seven characters to play from the bumptious MI6 agent recruiting Wormold to German Doctor with a doubtful past and connections with the Kaiser.

In inventing his team and their enlarged salaries to London based British Intelligence, Wormold presented a reasonable facade of spies with potential, but they only existed in his mind with their pay going to keep his daughter’s high spending habits satisfied. ( below. Sean Needham’s Wormold recruiting more ficticious spies. pic Nobby Clark)

Sean Needham wIt was a good piece of work by the actors and full compliments to Penny Latter and her Wardrobe department for much work in making it flow so well.

As I said earlier, Greene must be a nightmare to interpret from pages to fast moving stage work and I must pay tribute to professionalism of Cut to the Chase acting team.

They made it look easy which is always a sign of the amount of work put in.

It was a piece of theatre from start to finish, though I personally was a tad disappointed the pace seemed to drive a steam roller over the beautiful and intricate nuance and deft touches engineered so well in the book.

But as we all know, life is not that simple, even for the Queen’s Theatre.

Our man in Havana runs until Saturday February 22 with tickets available from £16 to £26.50 unless you take advantage of the generous discounts for all shows in the season with the Jump the Q purchase.  Box office is on 01708 443333 or online

From → Entertainment

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