BLOG: God, Operation Mincemeat is Brilliant!
A great review of new West End show ‘Operation Mincemeat’, written by one of our 4Youth Community members.
There’s a new show taking London’s West End by storm and what a show it is! Operation Mincemeat is a new musical by award-winning musical theatre makers, Natasha Hodgson, Zoë Roberts, David Cumming and Felix Hagan, collectively known as SpitLip. It follows the real story of a group working for British Intelligence who come up with an utterly wild strategy to trick Hitler and help win us World War ll. It’s fast-paced, silly and very, very funny – a perfect tone for such a farcical true story.
Having previously been performed at London’s New Diorama Theatre (2019) and Southwark Playhouse (2020, 2021, 2022), followed by an extended run at Riverside Studios (2022), this exciting new musical has made its way to the Fortune Theatre in the West End and is growing stronger every day. Opening on 29th March this year, the show has extended multiple times due to popular demand and is currently booking until 4th November.
Fans of the show are passionate, with some saying that they have seen the show 30+ times. This has led to Operation Mincemeat now offering a Loyalty scheme to show their appreciation for the support. If you have seen the show multiple times, you can head over to the Operation Mincemeat website and fill in a form to apply for £10 off per ticket for a group of 6 or more patrons (subject to availability.)
This is one of the things which makes me so happy for the creators of Operation Mincemeat – they care about their audience. When creating the show, as far back as 2018, they uploaded videos of what they were working on, to their SpitLip YouTube channel, asking for feedback on their working progress songs and sharing with their audience, challenges they were facing with the making of Operation Mincemeat. This is all content which isn’t usually shared, as creatives often like to keep things on the down-low until they are fully happy with their work. SpitLip, on the other hand, are collaborators and when watching Operation Mincemeat, I was struck by how much I felt that in the theatre. I’ve tried to express what I mean to friends and family, but Operation Mincemeat just feels different.
“When watching it, I felt like I was as much a part of the show as I was watching the show.”
The atmosphere in the theatre was nothing but positive, with audience members around me spilling compliment after compliment about how original and creative the show is. With a cast of only five actors, something else which is special for this show is the fans’ support and enthusiasm for the understudies. Unfortunately, in theatre, there can be negativity towards understudies generally, when an audience member attends the show expecting to see a particular actor, but they see an understudy instead. Not at Operation Mincemeat. Fans are so supportive of every cast member that a bingo sheet has been created, so that fans who see the show multiple times can tick off the different combinations of cast members they have seen perform together.
I have seen the main original cast in the show (Natasha Hodgson, Zoë Roberts, David Cumming, Claire-Marie Hall and Jak Malone) twice (so far) and both times, something went awry. Of course, in live performance, things can go wrong at any time, but the important thing is how the actors react and I felt truly honoured to witness how they dealt with it.
At my first viewing, it was just a simple misthrow of a hat. Not a big deal – they just threw it again and moved on. My second viewing, however, saw something which I loved with all my heart – probably the greatest moment I’ve ever seen in a theatre. Three actors were on-stage (Natasha Hodgson, David Cumming and Claire-Marie Hall), their characters having a discussion, when suddenly, Hester (Jak Malone) swung the door wide open, loudly and confidently making their entrance. The three looked at Jak. Jak looked at the three. Natasha broke the silence, “you’ve come in a bit early, Hester, I think.” The audience were suddenly beside themselves, realising that Jak had mistakenly entered the scene too early and we all watched as he slowly backed away, closing the door behind him. The three continued where they left off, only to be greeted by Jak re-entering a few lines later from the wrong entrance. Natasha, “there isn’t even a door there.” It was utterly hilarious and I was nothing but impressed by how the actors dealt with the situation. This is a funny musical and that was a naturally funny moment, so why not use it? The audience’s laugh was nothing but supportive and only brought us closer to the piece. It was a rare genuine moment in theatre, where the actors were just playing and what a breath of fresh air it was.
Another breath of fresh air, was my experience meeting the cast. Typically, I don’t go to stage doors after shows any more, partly because I don’t want to take up their time when they’re tired and busy. On this day, however, I was meeting a friend after the show, who was running late and as I was standing close to the stage door, the cast started coming out. I figured that this would be a natural opportunity to tell the cast how much I loved their show and I cannot tell you how impressed I was by the experience. Despite having less than two hours between their matinee and evening shows, the cast took as much time as was needed to speak to everyone personally, signing programmes and chatting about the show. It was the most chilled, personal stage door experience I’ve ever had, with actors who were nothing but grateful that people wanted to share how much the show meant to them. They were a great group of people and I even had the extra joy of meeting Jak’s Italian Greyhound, Dracula.
Every time something good comes their way – an extended run or yet another 5-star review – it brings me such joy, knowing that a group of friends who made their own musical have seen it go from strength to strength. It’s so rare that happens and I am truly thrilled for them. I can only hope that it’s around for many years to come – I’ll be cheering them on all the way.
Treat yourself to Operation Mincemeat tickets and have a great day!