Operation Mincemeat: Brilliant musical satire

 

But will it fool Hitler?

 

I was excited to see that Operation Mincemeat has found another venue at The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith with its creative, comedy entertainment.  On second viewing I enjoyed the show as much as I had five months ago.  I loved the slickness of the movement, the comedy dance moves, the raised fingers across the lips for Hitler and the way in which each actor arrives and manages to get first place in the ideas queue.  It is all so clever and you never miss a word!

As Charles Cholmondeley, Sean Carey replaces David Cumming who has a broken collar bone.  I have now seen the film of Operation Mincemeat which is an altogether more serious take on the incident and it is a good film but nothing like as much fun as this staging.  I understand the cast are planning to see the film together – that should be a fun night in the cinema! 

This show is West End ready and kept fresh by the cast and SpitLip.  It just needs to find an intimate theatre as the audience will see it is extended wherever it shows. 

Cast of Operation Mincemeat

This is my review from Southwark Playhouse in January 2022.

Just as the mince pies are over for another year, comes this brilliantly inventive and witty new musical about The Man Who Never Was from Spit Lip.  The major remake of the film is due out in March 2022 with Colin Firth and Kelly Macdonald. Southwark Playhouse is small but mighty as it trounces many larger musical theatres in the West End with this splendid show of spies and subterfuge. 

The show has the feel of a satirical musical revue as a cast of five take on and convince in multiple roles and as both genders, with dialogue as well as songs.  The setting is MI6 at the War Office in 1943 and the task is how to fool Hitler into thinking the Allied Forces will land elsewhere than Sicily.  It is a true story which fascinated my mother in the 1956 original film and is a wonderful example of British ingenuity and success. 

The great minds of armed forces intelligence are summoned to the War Office to produce alternative ideas about defeating Hitler.  The cast of five are clad in dark suits some with pin striped trousers and, as they contemplate military deception, they simultaneously switch to aviator dark glasses.  This jolly show is full of small details which will make you laugh at their audacity. 

Leading the brains is the commanding officer, Ewan Montagu (Natasha Hodgson) who together with Squadron Leader Charles Cholmondeley (David Cumming) plots to dress a corpse as a British officer to be washed up on the coast of Spain.  The corpse will  have a briefcase chained to his wrist with Allied invasion plans for Greece.  A new identity and back story is manufactured for the officer with love letters from a girlfriend, theatre tickets and receipts for jewellery.  They will rely on Franco’s forces to find the corpse and pass to the Germans for the intended intelligence coup. 

The cast are so full of energy and verve.  One number “Ladies, Time to Move Up!” about female clerks taking over roles vacated by serving servicemen has most of the cast in stockings and high heels, and what fine pins David Cumming has!   Everyone can sing and act pastiche.  Zoë Roberts is soundly gung ho and as the young Ian Fleming has plenty of Bond based ideas to contribute.  Jak Malone is often touching as the lonely secretary Hester.  Natasha Hodgson shows Montagu’s leadership qualities and David Cumming is zany as the odd ball genius Cholmondeley with his myriad facial expressions.  Claire-Marie Hall is Jean Leslie with the beautiful singing voice

Jenny Arnold’s choreography is very slick and polished and I loved the Nazi boy band number.  Helen Coyston’s simple set has red vertical lines and five lined up, vintage telephones with unlimited cords to tie everyone up in. The costume changes are clever and fast.  The band sit on the side out of view.  The music incorporates different styles and genres and the whole runs at an exemplary pace. 

Although first seen in 2019 at the New Diorama, the writers, three of whom are in the show, David Cumming, Felix Hagan, Natasha Hodgson, Zoë Roberts (Kill the Beast) work on it and keep everything fresh.  Another fun-filled five star show from Theatrevibe, the site that doesn’t do stars!  

Musical Numbers

Act One

Born To Lead

God That’s Brilliant 

Dead In The Water 

Dead In The Water (Reprise)

All The Ladies 

The Pitch 

Born To Lead (Reprise)

Making A Man 

Love Is A Bird 

Dear Bill 

Sail On Boys New 

Just For Tonight 

 

 

Act Two

Das Ubermensch 

Bevan’s Update

I Gotta Good Feeling 

Spilsbury

Spilsbury (Reprise) 

Rap: I Call Abort 

Haselden’s Got A Good Feeling 

Useful 

Act As If 

Maggot

Maggot (Reprise) 

Finale

 

Production Notes

Operation Mincemeat

Written by David Cumming, Felix Hagan, Natasha Hodgson, Zoë Roberts

Directed by Donnacadh O’Briain

Cast

Starring:

David Cumming

Claire-Marie Hall

Natasha Hodgson

Jak Malone

Zoë Roberts

Sean Carey

Creatives

Director: Donnacadh O’Briain

Designer: Helen Coyston

Lighting Designer: Sherry Coenen

Sound Designer: Mike Walker

Choreographer: Jenny Arnold

A Spit Lip Production

Information

Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval

Booking to 23rd July 2022

Address: 

Riverside Studios

101 Queen Caroline St
 
 
Hammersmith
 
 
London  W6 9BN
 
 
Phone: 020 8237 1000

 

Website: riversidestudios.co.uk

Rail/Tube: Hammersmith

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge

at the Riverside Studios

on 8th June 2022