Texts to my boyfriend before, during and after watching Our Man in Havana:
>Literally everyone is busy tonight, what is going on…and you’re definitely still in pain?
>Yeah, sorry, I still can’t feel half my face. Three fillings…xxx
>The set’s really nice, pretty simplistic but it does invoke a certain Cuban flavour. I’m going to treat myself to an ice cream in the interval, you’re missing out xxx
>You are not missing out
>Is it not good? :(
>The actors are fine, but the first act feels so slow! I get that they’re setting everything in place for spy thriller hijinks but there have been far too many sequences where Wormold is just writing letters. It’s far too static, the ensemble move the set around but it feels like dead space because it’s an endless parade of desks. Feels like a waste of the larger set.
>Also I thought this was meant to be a comedy but everybody’s playing it so straight. The only exaggerated character is his daughter Milly who’s meant to be 17 but she giggles and simpers like an 8 year old. Also there’s this whole sequence about her being naughty at Catholic school that goes *nowhere*
>Like why is it there?
>You don’t think it’s foreshadowing then?
>Doubt it, there have been so many scenes like that. I appreciate that Clive Francis has written a very faithful adaptation but in refusing to streamline the play, the first half just felt so stuffed with filler rather than any real meaty plot.
>You might be able to guess I am feeling a bit peckish.
>Isn’t the interval nearly up?
>Yeah, they’ve made the announcement that the show’s about to resume. I refuse to go back.
>But Exeunt are relying on you!
>Nope, reviewing for another publication tonight
>Fine, well they’re relying on you. Have fun xxx
>Didn’t get any better then?
>I think I’ve spoiled it for myself by seeing The 39 Steps first. Compared to that, this production felt like a stale restaging. Like there were literal bits of staging- a getaway car sequence- that looked like a more pedestrian version of Patrick Barlow’s adaptation.
>Pedestrian cars don’t sound fantastic
>Right?? Also the ending ran over so now I’m waiting an extra ten minutes for the next bus.
>Maybe it was the fact that I was expecting to be out at a certain time but the last five scenes felt like they could’ve been the final scene. It’s like Francis was writing a screenplay instead, far too many sequences are these short 1 minute scenes which would’ve suited film shots but took too long to set up on stage especially with the lights going down every time. Pretty sure there was a smattering of applause the first time because it felt so much like a definite ending.
>Sorry it wasn’t that interesting :/
>That’s what’s infuriating, the plot clearly is interesting. He makes up a load of fake spies but then people start dying for real? The British Secret Service think a load of vacuum cleaner designs are weapons of mass destruction? So much of the plot on paper is really funny but the delivery and the timing isn’t quite right. Just a few seconds too slow can make a joke look laboured beyond the point of enjoyment.
>I’m being mean, I’m just frustrated at the overall show. There was just no passion. It was like a well-oiled machine or a branch of Nando’s: everything looks great but once you get cosy you realise it’s not authentic. You may as well still be sat in York.
>You were sat in York…
>I know that :P but if theatre can’t transform you, is it doing the job well? Even when it perked up and splurged all the action in a fifteen minute burst, I was too far gone to be really swept up into the thrill of it all.
>Also don’t get me started on when the Queen came out and it was a man holding a handbag and doing a squeaky voice
>Bit too Monty Python for you?
> A minute of Monty Python is too much Python for me. It just felt like something silly with all the inherent silliness taken out. Bus here, remind me to find The 39 Steps when I get in xxx
Our Man in Havana is touring until 15th July 2017. Click here for more details.