New Diorama Theatre
Reviewed – 17th May 2019
“With such a small audience and such a big production, it feels like everyone has the best seats in a much bigger theatre”
This is the true story of how a floating corpse kept Hitler off our shores. Set in the Home Office in 1943, the Double Cross Committee is busy brainstorming brilliant plans to win the war – exploding seagulls, spies disguised as flamingos and eavesdropping insects are all among their finest ideas. But the winning gambit involves the corpse of a soon-to-be married young man named Bill, who enjoys cocktails at the Ritz, dinner at the Groucho Club, fine tailoring and, oh yes, he’s not real.
Sitting somewhere between Monty Python and Mission Impossible, SpitLip’s ‘Operation Mincemeat’ is full of catchy numbers, quick wit, and a lot of heart. Each cast member transforms in to a plethora of dimensional characters with a mere hip swagger or a slight pursing of the lips. A lot of fun is had with gender roles and stereotypes, and to great effect.
Felix Hagan’s musical direction also sees a brilliant display of composition, and musical ability from the whole cast: each and every one sings beautifully and, believe it or not, raps like a pro. Special mention goes to Zoe Roberts (playing Bevan among others) whose rhythm is infectious – you feel as though you might accidentally join in. Along with his brilliant physical comedy, Jak Malone also has a heart-breaking falsetto – a surprising yet effective combination.
The set (Helen Coyston) and lighting design (Sherry Coenen) create illusions of a much grander space, illustrated with particular prowess during a hectic split-scene between a big, bawdy cabaret song and dance, and a dark and echoing submarine under threat of attack. With such a small audience and such a big production, it feels like everyone has the best seats in a much bigger theatre.
This production has the feel of something just on the cusp of great success – see it before word gets out and there are no tickets left!
Reviewed by Miriam Sallon
Photography by Alex Harvey-Brown
New Diorama Theatre until 15th June
Previously reviewed at this venue:
Reviewed – 31st January 2019
“there is no faulting the sharp, incisive quality of the writing and the performances, there is a sense that they are all working a little too hard”
‘Kill the Beast’ have built up a reputation for combining their dark comedy with slick, slapstick physical theatre, creating spoofs that have targeted the likes of 80s sci-fi, detective stories and werewolf mysteries, among others. Now they turn their hand to the horror genre with “Director’s Cut” at the VAULT Festival. Farcical, fast-paced and frightening – even sometimes frighteningly funny – they transport us to the world of a 1970s wobbly film set. The more than slightly stressed director has just one more day to reshoot the final scene following the untimely death of his lead actress; whose ghost, needless to say, seeks to take her revenge from beyond the grave.
So, what can possibly go wrong? Even without the supernatural interference, there is melodrama enough to ensure the film never gets made. It takes real professionalism to portray amateurism well, and these five performers (Clem Garritty, Natasha Hodgson, Zoe Roberts, David Cumming and Oliver Jones) get it spot on with their exaggerated depictions of the prima donnas and the divas who have learned their trade from the ‘Art of Coarse Acting’. Even the props behave badly.
But despite the fast current of the action that sweep the gags along, it is dragged down slightly by the sheer haul of its influences. It’s a real mix of ‘The Goons’, ‘Inside No. 9’, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, ‘Noises Off’ and even a bit of ‘Acorn Antiques’. So much so that the horror element feels a bit shoe-horned in. Most of the humour lies in the human story, and while there is no faulting the sharp, incisive quality of the writing and the performances, there is a sense that they are all working a little too hard; as though over-eager to meet their target of punchlines.
“Director’s Cut”, though, is essentially an hour of very silly comedy, full of delightful in-jokes and recognisable characters. In jest there is truth. Even at its most ludicrous and over-the-top, much of the comedy derives from knowing how accurate the observations are. Strip these characters of their technicolour overkill and the anarchic humour would have more room to breathe.
Reviewed by Jonathan Evans
Photography courtesy Kill the Beast
Part of VAULT Festival 2019