Operation Mincemeat: A New Musical at Fortune Theatre
Four years ago a new comedy musical about throwing a corpse in the sea hit London via the tiny New Diorama Theatre – and it was promptly given a five-star review by almost everyone who saw it, including The Upcoming. It later had a stupidly successful run at the bigger Southwark Playhouse. Now it’s landed at the Fortune Theatre in Covent Garden and, well, it certainly hasn’t got any worse.
Operation Mincemeat is based on the true second world war deception of the same name, using a corpse to trick Hitler into thinking the Allies were going to invade Sardinia so he would move troops away from their real target, Sicily. But this show turns all that into an utterly preposterous and utterly hilarious musical.
The show has been through a few changes over the years: a nip here, a cut there; a rework, a tweak, a change in order. Have they improved it? Hard to say. Can you improve on perfection? The story is fantastic, the writing is phenomenal, they strike rapidly with joke after joke, the songs are catchy as all hell. And they know how to land a pretty solid emotional gut punch when needed.
Really, the biggest risk Operation Mincemeat faced in those four years was the possibility of losing the insanely talented Jak Malone in his important role as various characters. That one song by Malone as Hester Leggett is still the highlight of a thousand highlights in this show – only now it’s possibly the highlight of the entire West End.
The rest of the cast are almost the same too, which isn’t a surprise as most of them a) co-wrote the show and b) are brilliant. There’s initial concern that a five-person show that feels huge in the New Diorama’s intimate space might feel small in the much bigger Fortune Theatre. And perhaps it does before the interval: it’s a big stage without much on it, and the budget appears to have all been spent before they bought some of the props and costumes. Then the second part hits like a freight train with far more extravagance and much greater lighting displays that totally fill the space.
If there’s one show to see this year, make it Operation Mincemeat; if there are two, make it Operation Mincemeat twice. And for those of us who have been waiting four years for the album, making do with a couple of behind-the-scenes Youtube videos and Soundcloud recordings, it’s finally coming out.
Photo: Matt Crockett
Operation Mincemeat: A New Musical is at Fortune Theatre from 29th March until 19th August 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.