A Review On Operation Mincemeat: An Amusing Musical About The Second World War That Rivals Hamilton
It’s easy for posh people to do anything they want. We’ve seen this depressing fact play out over and over in the modern age of politics – and it predates the era of not-genuinely-an-apology apologies. One such example was Operation Mincemeat, a little-known, ethically dubious plan that helped the allied forces win the Second World War in the mid-20th century.
Mi6 would illicitly procure the remains of a homeless man in the form of a Royal Marine, dress him up, and float him out to sea, where it would be assumed the man was killed in a plane crash. It was created all the more realistic with the doctored documents placed on the man’s body and faked documents suggesting that Britain wanted to invade Sardinia instead of Sicily. This story is so absurd that it can’t be imagined – not even for the stage.
Theatre company SpitLip is creating an award-winning historical comedy musical based on a true story (a film version starring Colin Firth is coming in the future). This show can be described as an exciting, high-energy explosion. We’ve got rapping Nazis with Swastika armbands, feminist anthems with “Single Ladies” dance moves, erm, and Ian Fleming, James Bond’s author. This play has the elegance of an M4 Sherman tank, crashing from sketch to sketch and making them all the more fascinating.
David Cumming (Charles Cholmondeley) was the man behind Operation Mincemeat. Cholmondeley has intelligence but lacks the confidence of Ewen Montague (Natasha Hodgson playing the role defiantly), a mumbling posho who enters rooms pelvis first. Monty explains that they can easily convince the powers to implement their plan by using their collective brains and everything else they have. SpitLip is keen to play up to the notion that a nation’s fate is in the hands of “very underwhelming men” who feel close to home.
However, topical references can get in the way of Operation Mincemeat’s real magic, which is that it is a genuinely brilliant musical. SpitLip’s lyrics are saturated with jokes. Each line contains a rhyme on a rhyme in a continuous manner. Despite its full-length musical duration, Operation Mincemeat has the fast-paced humor of a fringe show.
Operation Mincemeat matches Hamilton and Six musically and is funnier than both. There is exceptional musical talent throughout the show, including the live band and the cast. The lilting soprano tones of Claire-Marie Hall highlight every harmony.
The five actors switch between roles fluidly, relying on stereotypes to distinguish their roles. It features women playing men and men playing women (primarily for comic effect), yet it also allows for moments of poignancy. Hester (Jak Malone), an office matron, offers to pen a letter claiming to be written by the soldier’s fiancee back home.
In a West End show without a sense of comedy, Malone’s song and performance would fit right in. Despite the funny accents, Boris jokes, and comedy noses, the heart is the most prominent part of Operation Mincemeat.
The Southwark Playhouse is currently showing ‘Operation Mincemeat’ until 19 February.