Sharper, smarter, crazier – SpitLip’s OPERATION MINCEMEAT, one of the biggest, funniest and best fringe hits of 2109 and 2020 is back!
Those of you who read my initial review from this show’s 2019 run at the New Diorama may remember that I loved the show’s smart lyrics, crazy and deftly-played comedy, and insanely catchy tunes. I did at the time express a hope that they would bring a director on board to develop its many strengths and ensure that the show achieved the even greater heights I suspected it had potential to rise to*.
Well, it seems that’s what they have done by bringing on board director Donnacadh O’Briain and choreographer Jenny Arnold. Really welcome news!
Not only that, but the team have spent considerable time during lockdown working on stripping down, streamlining and improving the show in many ways.
Together with the new logo and visuals, this all looks hugely promising.
So when can I see it, you ask? Well, the fruits of their labours can first be seen at 14 Work-In-Progress shows at the Southwark Playhouse in late July/early August.
(For those who may not have encountered them, Work In Progress performances are a way to try out new or fluid pieces of material within the framework of the show, to see what gets an audience reaction, and then working with those reactions to refine and hone the show. This means that audiences may well not see completely the same show from performance to performance, and it’s one of the great fun things about Work In Progress performances. If you are in doubt, bear in mind that in the 1930s, the Marx Brothers took their film scripts out to play live in theatres (often as much as six times a day) to “find the laughs” so that the writers could hone them, before committing the scripts to film.)
The story? During World War Two the British are constantly seeking novel ways to outwit the enemy. The idea- to create a fake identity by dressing an anonymous corpse as a Marine officer whose body will wash up on Spanish shores carrying fake papers about a planned Allied invasion of Sardinia, to distract attention -and troops- from the real point of entry, Sicily. Putting the plan into action involves much crazy fun along the way, from forgetful morticians (“must have a head, must be a man”) to creating the corpse’s backstory, to suspicions about who can be trusted. The show gained an impressive number of five and four-star reviews on its first and second runs.
I see that SpitLip have comedy specialists Avalon supporting them now which means a shift into bigger potential. But for me the ideal would be for a canny female producer (I’d love to name them but there are so many!) to take this in hand and make it into an even bigger hit.
The previous stagings of OPERATION MINCEMEAT won The Stage Debut award for Best Composer/Lyricist, the Off-West End award for Best Company Ensemble, and was listed in The Observer‘s Top 10 shows of 2019.
I already have my tickets booked for this run and would urge you to book yours too, if you want to be in at the development of a musical comedy which delivers big on both music and comedy, and which has the potential to be a cult hit of the same scale as THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW.
You can book tickets here from 11am on Thursday 10th June, but you’d better do it quickly!
* (This is one of the reasons the show didn’t get five stars from me, but four – because I suspected there was an even better show in there – and I would be quite possibly be giving that five stars somewhere down the line.)