Operation Mincemeat at Riverside Studios
For many, Operation Mincemeat is either a classic tale of WWII espionage or a contemporary and rather middling film starring Colin Firth. However, just by the river next to the unbelievably picturesque Hammersmith Bridge sits Riverside Studios, where there is currently a musical running that bears that same name. And it’s glorious.
Based on the titular story of spycraft and deception, Operation Mincemeat approaches the war with flair and its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. With a script and score written by SpitLip – the company that also star – the play takes the audience from the plan’s inception through to its eventual success, a rip-roaring and hilarious ride that features a gamut of memorable characters and toe-tapping tunes. It’s also wonderfully accurate, with a heap of historical details thrown in that don’t detract from the entertainment factor.
Perhaps the play’s greatest strength is its cast: a group of five who switch effortlessly between a range of personas. There’s the plan’s originator Charles Cholomondely, a bumbling amateur naturalist and MI5 spy who can’t quite get his words out, Ewen Montagu, the loud-mouthed agent who hides a secret, exasperated spymaster Johnny Bevan, played amazingly by Anouk Chalmers, and even Ian Flemming, whose appearance always brings the house down. That’s not all, however, and to list them would take a fortnight, but each and every one was very memorable and frequently hilarious.
The music is also incredible. From the opening number about MI5 being the best minds in England to Dear Bill, a sombre ballad that sent everyone reaching for the tissues, and even the appearance of rapping Nazis, there were no duff tunes in the show. Hopefully, this group will find their way into a studio sometime soon to record an album.
In terms of the production, it’s seamless, visually pleasing and totally believable. It moves with the action, featuring extended phone cords and shifting doors, including more than a few cabinets upon which the agents prop their feet. It also supplements the musical numbers effortlessly and provides plenty of laughs, especially the appearance of somewhat-shady pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury.
If you like musicals and want an evening that will make you laugh, cry and stick a load of earworms in your head for the next week, then Operation Mincemeat is your best bet.
Image: Alex Harvey-Brown
Operation Mincemeat is at Riverside Studios until 9th July 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.