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God They're Brilliant: Reviewing The Fortune Theatre's New 'Mincemeat' Five

★★★★★ | Recently, we were invited to check out the new 2024 cast of the Olivier award-winning musical Operation Mincemeat. Having performed for the past month, we were excited to see how they would tackle the characters' personalities and make each their own. This show has garnered well-deserved hype, so we were interested to see where it could go next.

Overall, we found that each cast member has settled into their characters, bringing along uniquely profound quirks. Their differing interpretations, in comparison to the preceding original cast, were eye-opening and offered a different insight into how each character behaves and the reasoning for their actions. If you were a fan of the show before, in any of its prior runs, you will adore the new cast as you did before.

What is Operation Mincemeat All About?

Neither a made-up set of events nor an imagined story, Operation Mincemeat recounts how a group of MI5 agents helped the Allied forces win World War II. They masterminded a plan to mislead the Nazis regarding the intended target (Sicily) of the pivotal 1943 Allied invasion. MI5 disguised Glyndwr Michael as ‘Bill’, a marine, and dropped this unknown Welshman's body in Spain with a briefcase of fabricated papers detailing their next attack on "Sardinia". As one character suspensefully exclaims: "Oh, a misdirection!"

Claire-Marie Hall, Chloe Hart, Sean Carey, Emily Barber, and Christian Andrews.

When we saw the show, we had an amazing cast, which comprised new members Emily Barber (Ewen Montagu) and Chloe Hart (Colonel Jonny Bevan) alongside original cast members Claire-Marie Hall (Jean Leslie), Sean Carey (Charles Cholmondeley), and Christian Andrews as the formidable Hester Leggatt.

The new cast brings their own takes on the characters. Barber’s use of body language to display seniority when working alongside Cholmondeley works perfectly. She makes the audience believe that Montagu has never been told no in his life, which helps to deliver comedic moments when he unsuccessfully goes head-to-head with his Colonel superior. This provides a really lovely contrast to Sean Carey as Cholomondeley. Carey is able to take the audience on a journey, making us not only root for him but also celebrate with him – few performers have the ability to do this. Awkward and rather endearing, Carey’s displays of vulnerability really portray his timid intelligence officer in a different light.

Andrews’ ability in portraying Hester is truly astonishing – although he visually appears young, you cannot help but see an older, uptight spinster slowly warming up to her colleagues. Andrews is also able to contrast this depth and reality of war through Hester's great relationship with Jean Leslie, portrayed by Claire-Marie Hall. Some truly heartwarming moments between the pair make you adore each of them for their opposing characteristics. Hall is the sole member of the original cast to stay on for another year, but her portrayal of Jean continues to grow and evolve. She has deepened in vulnerability in some aspects, whilst becoming deservedly more confident in other moments.

Military boss Bevan, aspiring spy author Ian Fleming, and British diplomat Haselden are characters of entirely unalike dispositions but, under Chloe Hart's deft multi-roling chops, each curate gorgeous moments of hilarity and hold the audience rapt through comedic timing and stunning vocals.

What Operation Mincemeat shows us is that simplicity can be stunning on stage. Costumes for this show are kept relatively simple but still of the war era. With this new cast comes yet more hats and sequins; what's remarkable about these accessories, from hats and removable ties to blazers and glasses, is that their adaptability can change an entire scene in an instant.

Wonderfully led by Musical Director Joe Bunker, the band seized their opportunity to dazzle with this fabulous score. There is a good balance of upbeat story-driving songs and slower ballads, the latter of which add emotion to a rather British comedy. Personal highlights included Andrews’ rendition of “Dear Bill”, a beautiful soliloquy displaying Hester’s vulnerability as she writes an emotional letter to a loved one on the battle frontlines, and "Making a Man", which charts the team's efforts to create the mission's fake Bill.

It's also so important to recognise the amazing understudies and alternates that Operation Mincemeat has: without them, the show would not happen, so here is our shoutout to the amazing Holly Sumpton, Geri Allen, Jonty Peach, and George Jennings. If you have an opportunity to play the fan-made Cast Bingo, we recommend catching all of them on stage, for they are amazing in their cover roles!

This show is entirely unique to anything on the West End at present. It combines British humour with fantastically memorable show tunes, to create a storytelling experience like no other. You really walk out of the theatre in disbelief that the story just told was in fact true and, thanks to the enthralling creative directions, you are captivated at all times.

The one truly disappointing thing is the ongoing struggle with ticket accessibility due to the constantly changing cost barriers that the producers, Avalon, have implemented. Unlike most shows in the West End, Operation Mincemeat runs on a one base-level price, which will rise to £89.50 for five of the eight shows in a week come November. Therefore, whether you’re sat in a prime Band A spot the middle of the stalls or stuck in the back row of the upper circle, it will take almost £200 for yourself and a friend/partner to see this show.

Thanks to a fortnightly lottery, there are a handful of £25 tickets available, but given the controversy that this latest move has caused, consider it a (no pun intended) mission to get an affordable ticket. That being said, if you do snag one, this is a musical that you are bound to enjoy.

It says a lot when a musical gets a 5-star review, let alone over 60 of them. It’s a bold statement that says it’s one of the best shows on the West End right now, and we quite rightly have to agree. It truly is up there with some of the most inventive, unique forms of art on stage at the moment; we urge anyone and everyone, who has yet to see this brilliant new cast, to witness them at the Fortune Theatre!


Operation Mincemeat plays at the Fortune Theatre until January 2025. All photography by Matt Crockett. The Cast Bingo is a fandom project created and maintained by @AgentMaayan on Twitter; it is not to be taken as an official Avalon source of information.

Did you know? Operation Mincemeat was originally created by the musical theatre group Spitlip, comprising three original members of comedy troupe Kill The Beast (David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson and Zoë Roberts) alongside Felix Hagan from the rock band Felix Hagan and The Family. The original idea developed from a passing comment by Hodgson’s brother, after he pointed Spitlip to a podcast episode about the World War II mission. After developing several editions of the show for almost half a decade through sold-out runs in multiple fringe theatres, Mincemeat made its West End debut in 2023. Besides the exceptional honour of 9 extensions and the Olivier Award for Best New Musical, the show has seen an array of successful events, including the unveiling of a plaque at the Fortune Theatre dedicated to Hester Leggatt – a key character of whom there was originally very minimal knowledge, but now has a plethora of information available by virtue of Mincefluencers' enthusiastic digging.


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