Operation Mincemeat by SpitLip at Riverside Studios

Operation Mincemeat seems to be the new musical that everyone is raving about and I finally got to see it at Riverside Studios and understand just what all the fuss is about.

Operation Mincemeat is set in 1943 and the Allies are losing the war. A plan is needed to direct the Nazi’s away from Sicily and this plan is in the form of a dead corpse washing up on the shores of Spain. Together employees of MI5, nerdy Charles and entitled Montague, along with Leslie, who is desperate to break out of the patriarchal structure at MI5 and long serving Leggett hatch the crazy plan.

The plot is fist and foremost brilliantly zany but this doesn’t mean that the show is lacking heart. There are moments of real emotion such as Leggett’s decoy letter which comes from a place of experience or the frustration experienced by Leslie at being wanted to be seen by more than a tea girl. The best comedy is always clever and whilst this show is set in 1943 there are many topical jokes and observations which really hit home with the audience. Combine this heart with the relevant wit and inevitable laughter that a plot like this brings and it tells a wonderful tale.

The music is very eclectic with girl power numbers in the style of Six to raps in the style of Hamilton, and from hip hop style routines to sea shanties, there really is something for everyone and due to this the audience are kept guessing as to what might happen, both in the plot and musically, next.

Whilst the 5 actors play a main role each they all multi roles throwing themselves into cameo roles as the show requires. Often a small accessory is added to signify this and doing so was choreographed so seamlessly into the show I often missed this change happening. I also loved that all of the performers played different genders interchangeably and it simply didn’t matter.

The performers themselves are unflinching in their commitment to their respective roles, no matter how silly or absurd the ask and this is part of the reason the show works so well. I particularly adored David Cumming’s physicality as Charles Cholmondeley and the contrast he provided when moving to his other characters. Natasha Hodgson as Ewan Montagu was also suitably odious at the same time as being incredibly watchable. Jak Malone took on the role of Hester Leggett, one of the more serious roles who managed to move us all during the most emotional number of the show yet moments later appear on stage in a sequinned jacket as a corrupt coroner.

Zoe Roberts played Johnny Bevan whose facial expressions alone ensured the audience were laughing with her. Claire-Marie Hall who played Jean Leslie, who as the straight woman throughout most of the show risked getting overlooked but her energy ensured that this did not happen. Whilst all of the cast are very strong individually the best moments are when they are working as an ensemble and the show really is an ensemble piece.

Operation Mincemeat ticks so many boxes, from fun, silly moments, to irreverent satire to moving numbers. It is a show that you can’t help but have a good time at and still smile about when thinking about it later!

Operation Mincemeat is running until the 23rd July at Riverside Studios.

If you like this review you might also like my reviews of Six, Hamilton and Cabaret.

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