Tag Archives: new diorama theatre

Operation Mincemeat (New Diorama Theatre)

Having grown up with the war film The Man That Never Was, I’m familiar with the basic facts of the operation which allowed British forces to hit back against the Nazi occupation by duping the enemy over Sicily.

The company of Operation Mincemeat

The company of Operation Mincemeat

Here, creative company SpitLip have created a musical about this very operation, which manages to be both irreverent (to the Germans, the British, and even a sole American airman) and respectful to those living through and lost in war.

Men play women (notably office secretary Hester, whose love letter is a small masterpiece, “why did we meet in the middle of a war … the roses miss you”), and women play men (a wonderful Montagu, all bluster and physical posturing, including top hat and high kick finale), but this company of five are adept at quick character metamorphosis throughout.

The company of Operation Mincemeat

The company of Operation Mincemeat

Charles Cholmondely is a geek who loves insects, a clumsy man whose limbs seem too large for his body, who dominates his scenes through his innate awkwardness. In two duets, one with the Montagu he idolises (“some were born to follow, but we were born to leave”), and one with young typist Jean, we see the measure of the man.

A Nazi jackboot song and dance heading up act two, a sleazy coroner who supplies bodies (“must have a head … must be a man”), a celebrity pathologist (music hall style), and even sultry club singer Velvet, all add to the colour of this accomplished show.

Board at New Diorama Theatre box office

Board at New Diorama Theatre box office

The design of the show (by Helen Coyston, Sherry Coenen and Dan Balfour) utilises hanging telephones, blocks, lighting cues, and a small band of three slightly off to the side. Operation Mincemeat, a mix of comedy and glam, “Singin’ in the Rain meets Strangers on a Train”, is an absolute triumph.

SpitLip are three members of comedy troupe Kill The Beast (David Cumming’s Cholmondely, Natasha Hodgson’s Montagu, and Zoe Roberts’ Bevan), with composer Felix Hagan.

They are joined here by Joe Malone (Hester, US airman) and Rory Furey-King (Jean, Velvet), with Ellen O’Reilly and Lewis Jenkins completing the band.

Set design of Operation Mincemeat

Set design of Operation Mincemeat

Everyone involved should be proud of this superlative show. It closes today, but surely has a future, as do SpitLip‘s musical creations: more please!

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