Our Man in Havana/Malvern Theatres

RELENTLESSLY amusing in a self-conscious sort of way, taxing rather than relaxing… the question is whether this Graham Greene travelogue travels all that well.

The notion of a bumbling fool being catapulted into a mission that’s way beyond his capabilities is nothing new. Evelyn Waugh must have dined out quite a few times with Scoop! and Greene seems to have been influenced by this winning combination of skulduggery and idiocy.

Charles Davies soars to new depths as the vacuous Wormald, a hoover salesman who somehow ends up working for British spooks in late 1950s Cuba, a country on the brink of Castro’s revolution.

Despite getting close at times, he never quite masters the skills of a man licensed to kill, the only casualties perhaps being the occasional spider being sucked up into one of his appliances, more hoovermatic rather than Beretta automatic.

James Dinsmore is quite obviously a man of many talents, not to say proud owner of a huge library of accents, ranging from posh chap spy to scheming German, then morphing into subservient waiter before becoming – yes, wait for it – Teresa the tart.

By comparison, a chameleon is the very personification of drabness.

Michael Onslow meanwhile gives Dinsmore a run for his pesos in the multi-role department but these soon blend into a generic bandido routine, a cross between Fawlty Towers Manuel and Eli Wallach in The Magnificent Seven.

However, this hot and sweaty night in the Caribbean really belongs to Isla Carter, a mistress of all the characters she surveys, capable of turning from revolting teenager into a Latino vixen before you can say down-with-Batista.

Our Man in Havana has an undeniably dated feel, the overly decorative dialogue contrived to the ultimate degree… in other words, it has all the usual hallmarks of what we term a classic.

It runs until Saturday (July 15).

John Phillpott