“No”, you can almost hear the show’s producer mutter through gritted teeth, “not the film that’s just come out, starring Colin Firth”.
And whilst that particular piece of synchronicity happens to be unfortunate – same title, same plot, verrrry similar release dates – in every other respect, this new musical’s timing is utterly immaculate. A joyously silly, whip-smart production from writer-performers SpitLip, Operation Mincemeat tells the ludicrous-but-true WWII story of the MI5 attempt to confuse the Germans by planting fake military information on a real corpse.
Lightning-paced, the show punches well above its weight, with the cast of five each playing multiple roles – an effect that the Daily Mirror described as “part Mel Brooks, part SIX, part Hamilton with a side order of One Man, Two Guvnors.” There’s slapstick, word-play, a sinister pathologist who’s a little too familiar with the corpses in his care, and – spectacularly, in a moment you didn’t know you needed – a Nazi boyband.
It’s funny, it’s frothy – and then, all of a sudden, it turns out to be deeply moving, too. Whilst ‘a man playing a middle-aged woman reciting a love letter’ might not sound compelling, Jak Malone’s transformation – without so much as a costume change – into dowdy MI5 secretary Hester remembering her correspondence with an old flame who went off to fight in the first Great War, is heart-stoppingly poignant and extraordinarily moving.
The show started its life at the New Diorama, then moved to the Southwark Playhouse for multiple sold-out runs. It then transferred to its current home at Riverside Studios where it continues to gather steam and critical acclaim across the board, attracting ★★★★★ reviews in the Financial Times, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and Sunday Express – there’s a sense of momentum here, reminiscent of the unstoppable ascendency of The Play That Goes Wrong.
Your mission: see Operation Mincemeat before it inevitably transfers to the West End, tickets become properly expensive, and acquiring them becomes a military operation in its own right…
NOTE: Operation Mincemeat is playing at Riverside Studios between 31st May & 23rd July. You can find out more, and get tickets right here.
Riverside Studios | 101 Queen Caroline St, W6 9BN
Want dinner before or after the show? Here are the best restaurants in West London…