Review: “Our Man in Havana” at Vertigo Theatre

Vicki Trask 

OnStage Calgary Critic

I find myself feeling conflicted about my answer to the question “so what did you think?” On one hand, I was astounded, on the other hand, I was waiting patiently for the stage to go dark. Vertigo Theatre’s latest production of Graham Greene’s “Our Man in Havana” is such a paradoxical success for me. The Playhouse is transformed into 1958 Havana, Cuba for a two act drama about spy games and hijinks – a fantastic concept to say the least.

A talented cast of four actors skillfully take on the role of every character from police, to nuns, to naked women, to the same proficient bartender surrounding the case of a vacuum cleaner who becomes the most successful spy in the British Empire. Kent Allen, Doug McKeag, Julie Orton, and Robbie Towns appeared very well rehearsed in their character choices, and were strong of conviction with excellent comedic timing. All four of them wowed me with their seamless movement and their ability to move between personalities.

I must bow to the costume department’s design. There are a staggering number of costume changes and each of them was seamless – from the audience perspective. In fact the entire show felt so fluid. From the sets (designed by Terry Gunvordahl) to the costumes (by Theresa Germain), the onstage and backstage choreography was astounding. All of the transitions were smooth and even entertaining to watch.

So why am I conflicted? The Story.

The plot promised to be full of intrigue and noir drama but it fell flat of really holding my interest. I found myself bored of the one-note text and long winded description. I think I understood what playwright Clive Francis was trying to convey by I often tuned out the monotonous story. Despite my apprehension with the script I think director Mark Bellamy absolutely turned out a fantastic production. His vision was clear, comedic, and communicated brilliantly. Its brilliant storytelling right there on stage.

I must insist you attend Vertigo Theatre’s production of “Our Man in Havana” to watch the people on that stage create an almost dance with their movement. It’s astounding and a must see in my opinion.