Ever wanted to watch a gloriously flamboyant musical tell the gruesome tale of how a rotting corpse was set adrift in southern Spain to fool Hitler?
Well, now you can.
Operation Mincemeat is a bundle of whimsical whiplash that has attracted the masses.
With an astounding 64 five-star reviews, the show is the best reviewed in West End history.
As I settled into the cosy corner of Covent Garden, otherwise known as the Fortune Theatre, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
The new musical had been so devoutly adored by the theatre community that I wasn’t emotionally prepared for my dreams to be dashed.
However, there was no time for emotional turmoil as I was soon brusquely welcomed into MI5 HQ by arrogant Naval Intelligence Officer Ewen Montagu, played by co-writer and actress Natasha Hodgson.
I am yet to discover how Hodgson maintains her voice each night, with Montagu’s Cambridge-educated, gravelly drawl persisting so effortlessly throughout the show.
The boisterous ‘loud boy’ oozes a sprightly yet narcissistic energy, next to the nervous newt-enthusiast, Charles Cholmondeley, played by fellow co-writer David Cumming.
However, the voice I was amazed at most was Jak Malone’s.
Throughout, Malone portrays the matronly secretary of the operation, Hester Leggatt, who was responsible for creating the documents and papers that convinced the Germans of the legitimacy of the British ploy.
The emotional ballad, Dear Bill, gave the audience a peek into Hester’s personal story, based on a letter addressed to her sweetheart who fought in the Second World War.
His performance is a standout one, offering a much-needed momentary pause amidst the surrounding chaos of ex-Etonians running after corpse canisters.
However, Malone proves his flexibility as he takes on several other roles, including everybody’s favourite camp cockney con Bernard Spilsbury, American pilot Willie Watkins, and Ewen’s brother and Soviet spy Ivor Montagu.
It’s so sad when you see actors getting pigeonholed, isn’t it?
I sat back in my seat, ready to find out how a rotting corpse and witty wordplay won the war.
After the first act, I knew what to expect the second time around.
I was wrong.
For the next several minutes, I suffered significant whiplash as sparkly swastikas and slut-dropping Nazi soldiers took to the stage, satirising Nazism and all that came with it.
I believe that it’s safe to say that this show has range.
What makes this show different is its willingness to make light of the dark; it brings a twisted story from a dark period of history to centre stage, directing attention away from the frontline and towards the meticulous planning and daring decisions behind the scenes.
The talented quintet has perfected the art of bringing a smile to their sold-out crowds with a sensational soundtrack to boot, paying respect to those who fought against the odds and held their nerve to win the war.
Thanks to its eighth extension, Operation Mincemeat is running until 16 November 2024 at the Fortune Theatre.
Featured image credit: Matt Crockett via Avalon