We went to review Operation Mincemeat last summer when it opened at the Southwark Playhouse and we absolutely adored it – describing this quirky little musical as “fun, funny and an absolute must-see”. There have been some changes over the last year: Sean Carey is currently standing in for original cast member David Cumming, who is out due to injury; the show has a new home, at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios; and we spotted a handful of new jokes, including a knowing nod alluding to the new feature film of the same name.
It remains one of the best shows in town. For the production we saw, Sean Carey had only been standing in for a few weeks, but you’d never know – he fits in seamlessly. For those unfamiliar with Operation Mincemeat, it’s a real-life story of a genuine operation during the Second World War – a rather ridiculous mission with the intention of throwing Hitler off course, enabling the allied forces to advance. If you’re not familiar with the details, it’s best not to look them up in advance – the first time we saw it, much of this was new information to us, and we enjoyed the show all the more with the plot and characters being a surprise.
It’s amazing what these five actors – ably supported by a hardworking band – can achieve. Each has their own ‘main’ character but they all swap roles multiple times throughout to create a much larger cast; some of these switches happen on-stage with a quick costume change and an altered accent. It’s really impressive stuff to watch.
Several of the best moments occur when the actors are playing roles of the opposite gender: Natasha Hodgson’s swipes at toxic masculinity land brilliantly as she’s playing English public schoolboy Ewen Montagu, while Jak Malone’s tender portrayal of office clerk Hester is wonderfully sensitive. His delivery of ballad ‘Dear Bill’ is not just a show-stopping moment in this performance, but one of the best songs we’ve ever heard in a musical.
What is there to say about Operation Mincemeat that hasn’t already been said? Ours was just one of many glowing five-star reviews last summer and we’re absolutely delighted to have it back once again. The songs are brilliant, the script is smart, the jokes are hilarious; more than that, though, this ingenious production manages to create an entire world and substantial cast on a shoestring budget with a tiny ensemble. Do yourself a favour and grab a ticket while you can – this musical is surely destined for bigger and better things, and it’s an absolute treat to see it in such an intimate setting.
GAY TIMES gives Operation Mincemeat – 5/5
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