The oldest continuous operating stage space in Los Angeles, Theatre West is back in business – and not a moment too soon. As the pandemic slowly wanes, Theatre West introduces 2021 live theater with OUR MAN IN SANTIAGO. First presented for only two performances in 2020 just as COVID struck and all U.S. theaters were closed, the same play with the same cast comes roaring back to delight Los Angeles audiences. It’s almost as if 2020 never happened, and the world simply blinked.
This hilarious spy thriller was inspired by a true story about a brilliantly botched U.S. attempt to overthrow Chilean President Salvador Allende, an avowed Marxist who wasn’t with the CIA’s program. For years, playwright Mark Wilding saved a 1974 Harper’s Magazine article written by Gabriela Garcia Marquez which outlined a plan hatched by the Nixon administration and the Chilean military to stage a coup if Allende was elected. A 200-member Navy chorus was coming to Chile to visit, a 200-member group actually composed of government overthrow specialists. Unfortunately, many of the cadre were, to put it politely, vocally challenged; and the plan was eventually scrapped.
That spectacular snippet of a failed reality proved to be the stimulus for Wilding’s inventive creativity, and OUR MAN IN SANTIAGO was born. What if the CIA sent a novice agent to Chile instead, an agent with no field experience and a screwball, poorly considered plan to assassinate Allende? And what if the chief spook in Chile had his own agenda – perhaps to impress President Nixon in far-off Washington D.C. and land a mind-boggling promotion?
The year is 1973, and the place is the Carrera Hotel in Santiago, Chile. Inexperienced but eager Daniel Baker (Nick McDow Musleh) has just arrived to meet CIA Station Chief Jack Wilson (George Tovar). Jack has lots of insidious and really dangerous plans in mind to please President Nixon (Steve Nevil) and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Michael Van Duzer). Of course, Jack is an idea man – so all of these tricky and possibly deadly plans require Daniel to execute them. Remember that this is a man who doesn’t speak Spanish and only worked briefly in the CIA office in New Zealand. What could possibly go wrong? Into the mix soon enters Maria Troncoso (Presciliana Esparolini), ostensibly the hotel maid in this CIA madhouse.
Get ready to chuckle, laugh, guffaw, and explode with glee at the ridiculously raucous events to follow. Wilding is a master of comic writing with a bio that includes some of the funniest – and award winningest – scripts on television. Helmed by equally experienced and talented director (and sometimes magician) Charlie Mount, OUR MAN IN SANTIAGO is sure to tickle everyone’s funny bone. Add to this powerful duo the strong skills of the acting quintet who bring these characters to life, and you have a formula for first-rate comedy. From tongue-in-cheek satire to outright over-the-top surprises, OUR MAN IN SANTIAGO delivers. This is a not-to-be missed production.
OUR MAN IN SANTIAGO runs through October 24, 2021, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles, CA 90068. Ticket prices range from $15 to $30. For information and reservations, call 323-851-4839 or go online. Theatre West adheres to all current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks. Proof of vaccination will be required for all patrons.