By Holli Harms

Our Man of Santiago, written by Mark Wilding and directed by Charlie Mount, is having its New York debut at the AMT Theater after, a run in Los Angeles.

Wilding wrote the play based on a Gabriel García Márquez article he read in a magazine years ago about the clash between then President Nixon and the Chilean president Salvador Allende.

At a hotel in Chile directly across the street from the Presidential Palace of President Salvador Allende, two CIA agents have set up shop to not only keep an eye on Allende but eventually or so the plan goes have him assassinated. One of the agents is young and nerdy Daniel Baker (Nick McDow Musleh) is doing his best to be a good guy as he likes to pronounce Chile correctly to all the locals. He is the innocent in a plot headed by veteran agent Jack Wilson (George Tovar). Wilson is looking to make a “killing” with this mission that will move him up the ladder of command. They are constantly interrupted by the hotel maid Maria ( Presciliana Esparolini) who turns out to be more than what she claims.

The play is billed as “A raucous political farce…” I experienced nothing raucous or farcical on stage. It was as if the entire production had been submerged in thick mud. The staging was slow and deliberate, dialogue quiet, and pauses so thick you could have run several trains through them. The cast who are reprising the roles they created in Los Angeles, seemed to be lost. Well, except for Nixon (Steve Nevil), and Kissinger (Michael Van Duzer). The only time they all were in “raucous farce mode” was in the poses that they took for curtain call which is the picture used here for the production. That’s Curtain Call! A long time to wait.

The definition of farce is “A comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.” There was no horseplay, no buffoonery, no crude characterizations, there WAS an improbable situation that was never lifted up off its quickly mud-sinking feet. It was a straight play with one or two moments intended, by the staging, to be laugh-out-loud moments, and a few audience members did guffaw but their outbursts felt uncomfortable.

The stage was small and cramped and so afforded plenty of opportunities to trip and fall, to stumble and lurch. There were doors aplenty which every good farce has, a front door, a closet door, and two French doors to a balcony, so plenty of opportunities for screwball fun, think James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors, but the doors were used just as doors for people to enter and exit.

Light and music changes for certain monologues that would most likely have worked had the rest of the evening been slightly to the left of normal and true to the definition of farce, are wildly out of place here.

I AM (and my friends can attest to it, even those on stage performing) a laugher. Easy to the laugh, that’s me. Not once did I laugh. Who knows maybe this was a very very off night? The play itself is very interesting and touches on so much of the political world we are living through right now. A world full of farce and raucous behavior.

This was a preview performance and so time often can turn the tides and things will pick up, and the show will sail on. I hope so. Especially for Presciliana Esparolini, who is so wonderfully watchable. I want more for her.

Our Man of Santiago New York Debut at AMT theater written by Mark Wilding, directed by Charlie Mount

With: Presciliana Esparolini, Nick McDow Musleh, George Tovar, Steve Nevil, and Michael Van Duzer.

Creative Team: Written by Mark Wilding, Director Charlie Mount, Lighting and Set design by Charlie Mount, The producer is Benjamin Scuglia, and general managers are Tom Smedes and Heather Shields of Clearview Theatricals.

Our Man in Santiago performances September 16 through October 28, 2022 at the AMT Theater, located at 354 W 45th Street.

Running Time: 100 minutes

To Purchase Tickets go HERE

You will be required to wear your mask for the entirety of the performance.