SpitLip’s production has opened at the Southwark Playhouse following a successful run at the New Diorama Theatre in 2019.
Where to begin with a show like Operation Mincemeat? It’s an utterly ridiculous musical, one with a story so preposterous and yet, unbelievably, completely true. Set during World War II, it follows the lives of the British intelligence officers who really did hatch a plan to fake the death of a pilot by planting a corpse on a Spanish beach. The local authorities genuinely shared the corpse’s briefcase – containing misleading dossiers about allied invasion plans – with the Nazis, throwing Hitler off course and allowing the allies to advance. As the cast quip during the performance – you couldn’t write it.
It’s a joyously irreverent show, one that’s both incredibly fun and funny. The initial run received some criticism for its length, clocking in at comfortably over two and a half hours; thanks to some recent edits, the running time has been trimmed by more than 20 minutes and what we’re left with is a lightning-paced greatest hits which doesn’t miss a beat. The songs are superb – most lean towards comedy, with some hilarious punchlines, but there’s some impressive variety here.
Highlights include the brilliant act two opener which sees our five performers don Nazi uniforms for a tongue-in-cheek ode to their dear leader, featuring a catchy refrain encouraging us to “goose-step to the left, then jump to the far-right”. The deliciously-macabre Spilsbury’s song (and its reprise) is outrageously good and sets up a perfectly-choreographed visual gag which had us absolutely howling.
Our favourite, however, is Dear Bill, delivered tenderly by heartbroken clerk Hester, reminiscing about a lost lover remembered only through letters. It provides a sudden change of pace which caught us completely off guard and almost moved us to tears.
We really adored Operation Mincemeat – these five actors work their socks off covering myriad roles between them, and are ably supported by an excellent live band. Whether they’re making quips at the expense of the British government or public school boys, or observational humour about English expats (they’re never immigrants, of course), the punchlines have a terrific hit rate which is pretty much unparalleled in London right now. Pay a visit to the Southwark Playhouse and you won’t regret it – this is an absolute must-see.
GAY TIMES gives Operation Mincemeat – 5/5
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