Our Man In Havana - May 2015


In 1950s Cuba, revolution is in the air and the Cold War is hotting up. The British Secret Service needs a new source of intelligence in the Caribbean. Enter James Wormold, a hapless vacuum cleaner salesman struggling to pay for his daughter’s extravagant lifestyle, and who can’t resist the financial rewards of becoming a Government agent – dangles in front of his eyes by the urbane Hawthorne.

The problem is that he hasn’t a clue how to go about it and wouldn’t know a dead letter drop from a double agent.  Given the concept of inventing agents by his long-time drinking companion, Dr Hasselbacher,  he reports to London the recruitment of shadowy imaginary agents and provides drawings of secret military installations based on vacuum cleaner parts.  While Whitehall are delighted, the Cuban regime is appalled and decides that ‘Our Man’ and his agents must be disposed of.


Narrator 1 - Ian Mess

Narrator 2 - Ron White

Wormold - Joe Crisfield

Lopez - Neil Tunbridge

Hawthorne - Roger Dale

Milly - Becky Bishop

Bank Teller - Rick Roberts

Tourist - Joyce Wells

2 Tourists - Joyce Wells & Phil Wright

Barman - Ian Mess

Plain clothes policeman - Jon Slade

2 pimps - Rick Roberts & Phil Wright

Hasselbacher - Jim Gibbons

Barman - Ian Mess

Liftman - Rick Roberts

Rev Mother - Joyce Wells

The Chief - Ron White

Miss Jenkinson - Joyce Wells

Ethel - Becky Bishop

Official - Rick Roberts

Bank Teller - Rick Roberts

Police Sergeant - Chester Stern

Policeman - Phil Wright

Drinks waiter - Ian Mess

Captain Segura - Jon Slade

Porter - Rick Roberts

Page - Voiceover

Dr Cifuentes - Ian Mess

Waiter at restaurant - Phil Wright

Pimp - Rick Roberts

Teresa - Chester Stern

Prof Sanchez - Rick Roberts

Sanchez’s woman - Joyce Wells

Man in chair - Neil Tunbridge

Carter - Rick Roberts

Waiter - Phil Wright

Air Hostess - Joyce Wells

O’Toole - Chester Stern

Waiter - Phil Wright

Official - Voiceover

Dr Braun - Voiceover

The Queen - Joyce Wells


Director - Ros Tunbridge

Production Assistant - Theo Spring

Stage Manager - Roger Brimble

Backstage Team - Rod Newman, Neil Tunbridge, Sue Kennard

Set Design - Tony Dent

Set Construction & Painting - Alistair Kennard, Tony Dent, Paul Gregory, Phil Wright, Jim Gibbons, Ken Mason, Ian Mess, Neil Tunbridge, Roger Brimble, Barbara Dent, Carol Griffiths

Props  Team - Janet Brimble & Phil Wright

Lighting, Sound & Projection - Alistair Kennard, Andy & Barry Nicholson

Wardrobe - Linda Currion & Sue Kennard

Make-up - Barbara Dent

Prompt - Hazel Mason & Theo Spring

Box Office - Jenny & David Russell

Publicity - Linda Currion & Theo Spring

Programme - Paul Carter, Jim Gibbons, Theo Spring

Front of House Manager - Rosemary Stern

Bar Manager - Ian Spring

Stewards & Refreshments - Members of Parlour Players


Clive Francis’s adaption of Graham Greene’s novel originally involved some 45 scene changes and a cast of 4 playing a myriad of parts. The object of the play was to tell the story of the novel and this was at the expense of character development; for a novel is several hundred pages long and a play isn’t. Nevertheless Director Ros Tunbridge gave us memorable moments with a large cast and her production team was a smooth error-less machine; their unobtrusive presence kept the plot moving.

Joe Crisfield as James Wormold the vacuum salesman recruited as a spy by British Intelligence without the faintest idea of what to do was extremely convincing and I certainly believed that British intelligence was capable of this idiocy. There were two narrators, the first played by Ron White with a smiling charm that was quite beguiling as he plied us with information and in addition he was a dogmatic Chief of Intelligence. The second was Ian Mess more monosyllabic and with the ability to change into a Barman, Drinks Waiter etc.

Wormold had an expensive daughter Milly (Becky Chrisfield) and as he was short of money he invented characters whose names he got from the Country Club and added to his payroll for which he received recompense. In addition he sent drawings of vacuum cleaner parts as if they were secret installations; Headquarters being suitably impressed. His friend Dr.Hasselbacher acted teutonically by Jim Gibbons turned out not to be what he seemed, dying beautifully with only his feet protruding from the edge of a flat. The play got a dark edge as our opponents in the Cold War started to murder the fictitious with the real names and one of the funniest scenes was the attempt to poison Wormold at the Vacuum Cleaners’ Convention.

Captain Segura (Jon Slade) of the police looked suitably villainous and South American but tended to sound South London but we warmed to him as his uniform was suitably slovenly. A special mention for Chester Stern who’s Teresa from the Shanghai Theatre was every chauvinistic male’s feminine nightmare; a veritable ‘coup de theatre’.

Rick Roberts had many parts, excelling as the Bank Teller and Lopez (Neil Tunbridge) sounded Mexican which was probably the same as Cuban since both spoke Spanish. Wormold was sent an assistant Beatrice (Caroline East) who eventually provided the romantic interest.

There were thirteen cast members many of which had multiple parts from Nuns to tourists’ fellow vacuum salesmen and even the Queen.

I am glad that Parlour Players had the courage to tackle this very difficult play and did provide us with an original evening’s entertainment.