Jhe WWII mission Operation Mincemeat is one of those stories that’s so thoroughly bizarre it’s shocking no one has made a musical out of it before. This operation, to disguise the Allied invasion of Sicily, had the kind of weird details that writers couldn’t come up with: fake love letters, Rat Death and James Bond author Ian Fleming. Theater company SpitLip, now harnessing the story to its full comedic potential, brings its show Ground Meat Operation at London’s Riverside Studios this spring, following a five-star run at the Southwark Playhouse earlier this year. The show comes amid an overabundance of ground meat. There was Ben McIntyre’s book in 2010, while a big-budget historical drama starring Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen is also currently in cinemas – all of the same name.
At a time when the London musical theater scene was dominated by Broadway exports, jukebox musicals and stage adaptations of films, Ground Meat Operation (the show) is an outlier. It was written by a small local talent company and is packed with original songs dense with jokes, puns, and pop culture references. It’s the work of SpitLip, a theater company that originally met when the founders were studying together at the University of Warwick. Ground Meat Operation is their first show under the name – before that, they spent 10 years creating comedies with fellow theater company, Kill the Beast.
The musical was commissioned in 2019 by New Diorama, a London theater known for taking a chance on relatively untested emerging talent, behind a stage and two songs (“And a very well-written pitch document “, adds Roberts with mock indignation). This first tour, they played in front of an audience of 80 people. Now they are 10 weeks old in a 500 seat hall. As I meet SpitLip in a North London church where they rehearse “God it’s awesome”one of the series’ first high-octane band numbers, you can tell they’re fired up – if a bit exhausted.