A ride through Havana

Decades old story still delightfully relevant

A classic novel’s play adaptation is hitting the stage in Calgary at Vertigo Theatre from March 11 to April 9. 

Directed by Mark Bellamy, Our Man in Havana promises to be “a great rollercoaster ride for audiences.”

Our Man in Havana is the story of a vacuum cleaner salesman who is recruited to become a spy in pre-missile crisis Cuba.

“It’s very funny and oddly timely,” said Bellamy, 

“The book was written in 1958, and the events that happen in the book, where people are creating alternative facts, has some relevance to our world today.” 

The main character Jim Wormold is not a trained spy, so he begins making up people to report back to The United States.

“That time period and that kind of social unrest creates a ripe opportunity for espionage,” said actress Julie Orton, who has numerous roles in the play.

It isn’t just a political play, it has its foot in escapism and comedy.

 “It dances this fine line of wacky, fast- paced comedy, and then on the other side, it’s this actual intriguing and very plot- heavy spy story,” said Orton

There are 48 characters in the play all played by four actors. 

“Almost every character in the book is portrayed on stage,” said Bellamy. 

Orton plays 10 characters, including the main character’s daughter and his eventual love interest.

One character of Orton plays is a disillusioned stripper, who Orton calls “a nice combination of horrible and hilarious.”

“There is this great sort of real life historical undertone of the play, but on top of that, it is kind of a send up of spy stories and the mystery genre,” said Orton. 

The mystery genre makes it a great play for Bellamy to direct, as he is very well versed in the genre.

“I’ve done a lot of plays of a similar style to this one,” said Bellamy.

“It’s a very fast-paced play that has a lot of moving parts.”

This is a complicated play with 55 scene changes and 51 quick costume changes, said Bellamy. 

The complexity of the show is a challenge for both the director and actors alike. 

“You might walk off stage as one character and immediately walk back on as someone new,” said Orton. 

“You can’t just rely on costumes to do your work for you.”

Luckily, the cast had the opportunity to have a run of the show in Saskatoon at Persephone Theatre. 

“We know audiences really enjoy the show,” said Bellamy. 

For more information and tickets, please visit vertigotheatre.com

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