By Harry Mottram: One of my favourite novels is Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana – and the BBC Radio 4 have dramatised the book in two parts with the anti hero James Wormold played by Rory Kinnear.
It’s a comedy send up of British Intelligence (or lack of it) and in some ways a prophecy of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Cold War.
Wormold is a vauum cleaner salesman in Cuba in the 1950s and is recruited by the British to spy on the country and in particular a secret nuclear facility in the interior. With no idea how to be a spy he makes up things and submits drawings of vacuum cleaner parts to M16 pretending they are the secret facility.
He does all this as he wants to keep the pay cheques from M16 coming as his daughter Milly is high maintenance.
The dramatisation achieves the balance of the black humour of the sinsiter police chief Captain Segura (Joseph Balderrama) and the absudity of Wormold’s mission. Kinnear gives the anti-hero a more knowing feel that his character in the novel sometimes has – adding to the feeling that he’s rather more aware of the situation than at first appears.
It is certainly a better adaption than the movie version directed by Carol Reed with Alec Guinness in the lead role. Somehow despite a star cast that included Maureen O’Hara and Noel Coward as Hawthorne it didn’t encapsulate the charm of the novel or even the humour – unlike this radio version.
Wormold ….. Rory Kinnear
Beatrice ….. Emily Berrington
Hasselbacher ….. Kenneth Collard
Milly ….. Kitty O’Sullivan
Hawthorne ….. Miles Jupp
Captain Segura ….. Joseph Balderrama
Carter ….. John Lightbody
Teresa/Iris ….. Rhiannon Neads
Chief/Dr Braun ….. Michael Bertenshaw
Sanchez/Waiter/British Ambassador ….. Martin Marquez
MacDougall/Joe/Policeman 2 …… Josh Bryant-Jones
Rudy/Policeman 1 ….. Jot Davies
Mistress of Sanchez/Ambassador’s Assistant ….. Jessica Turner
Directed by Tracey Neale
Adapted by – Jeremy Front.