Operation Mincemeat musical’s unbelievable true plot

Operation Mincemeat is the hit new West End musical that delves into an intriguing chapter of World War II history.

From the comedy troupe SpitLip – made up of David Cumming, Felix Hagan, Natasha Hodgson and Zoë Roberts – first made its debut in 2019.

It’s now enjoying a sell-out, five-star run in the heart of the West End at Fortune Theatre. But what is the new musical all about?

The plot of Operation Mincemeat Musical

The story of Operation Mincemeat is set during the tumultuous period of World War II, with a focus on the year 1943. It revolves around a daring and highly secretive real life British intelligence operation. The objective of this operation is to deceive Nazi Germany about the Allied invasion of Southern Europe.

operation mincemeat musical poster

The central plot of the musical unfolds around the ingenious plan hatched by two British intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley. Their strategy involves planting false information on a stolen corpse in order to mislead the German high command.

The body is dressed as a Royal Marines officer with falsified documents planted in the pockets. It’s set to wash ashore in Spain, where pro-Nazi elements would likely find it and pass the information to the German intelligence.

As the plot progresses, we witnesses the meticulous execution of the plan. The creation of a fictional identity for the corpse, complete with love letters and a photograph of a fictitious fiancée. The successful planting of the body off the coast of Spain and the subsequent interception of the documents by German agents mark the climax of the operation.

The musical doesn’t just end with the execution of the plan. It delves into the ramifications of this deception on the war’s progression. The successful misdirection leads to a significant weakening of German defences in Sicily. Therefore, the Allies gain a crucial foothold in Southern Europe and ultimately win the war.

And there’s a look at what happened to the characters too, such as Ian Fleming who went on to create James Bond.

Finally, the musical concludes with a focus on “the man who never was” at the centre of the plot, eventually recognised as Major William Martin.

So is it a true story?

Operation Mincemeat is a very real deception operation that the British forces carried out in during World War II, although the humorous songs and gender-swapped roles in the musical may not reflect what happened with complete accuracy.

There also remain a number of unanswered questions about what was a top secret operation, including those involved.

Fans of the musical however have been doing their own research. A #FindingHester project has uncovered missing pieces of MI5 secretary Hester May Murray Leggatt’s life, one of the less-regarded protagonists. It’s led to a plaque in her honour unveiled at the Fortune Theatre.

See the musical in the West End

Operation Mincemeat is currently running at the Fortune Theatre in the West End. The show is currently booking to June 2024 following five extensions already. Tickets are on sale now here.

Told across two acts, the show has a running time of 2 hours, 20 minutes. It is recommend for those aged six and above.

The current West End production follows previous sell-out runs. Firstly at the New Diorama Theatre in 2019, Southwark Playhouse in 2020, 2021 & 2022 and Riverside Studios in 2022.

About the author: Rachel Wise

UK based freelancer journalist Rachel contributes regularly to Stageberry with features and interviews from the hottest new shows and stage stars.


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