31 October 2020

What A Carve Up! Review

The Barn Theatre in Cirencester, who have done some magnificent work during this difficult period, has produced a virtual piece, What A Carve Up! In co-production with The Lawrence Batley Theatre and The New Wolsey Theatre.


This intriguing murder mystery is written by Henry Filloux-Bennett adapted from the book by Jonathan Coe and told by a hugely talented company of actors, most of whom are only ever heard and not seen. 


Alfred Enoch



The story is told from the perspective of Raymond Owen (Alfred Enoch), he sits in his office with a wall behind him that shows how dedicated he's been to his own investigation into events. Raymond's father Michael Owen (Samuel Barnett) is the prime suspect in a murder case that happened 30 years previous where 6 members of the infamous Winshaw family were killed. Can Raymond prove his father's innocence with the evidence he's found? As the viewer it's as if we're in the hot seat watching Raymond conduct his own trial.


With all the current government guidelines the production is mostly told through interviews over radio tape with Raymond tying it all together. The only interview we see involves the only remaining member of the Winshaw family, Josephine (Fiona Button) who is talking with an interviewer (Tamzin Outhwaite).


Whilst I did feel the first 20 minutes felt a little slow once we got through those this compelling mystery began to unfold with great pace and intrigue. Writing this review alone I've written 3 sides of paper with notes trying to work out what has happened and how all the characters tie in together! It's a tremendous performance by Alfred Enoch who brilliantly keeps you involved with the story and stops the viewer from becoming overwhelmed with the amount of information that is thrown at you. 


Tamzin Outhwaite and Fiona Button.


We cleverly delve deeper into the past of these characters and it's clearly painted on the viewer how disliked the Winshaw family are, it's not difficult to see why they've been bumped off! All the strands of the family seem to have upset people around them with even Josephine being painted as a Trump-voting highly opinionated individual. We learn a lot more about Michael too and how he became involved with the family through writing The Winshaw  Legacy all about them and about the cinema trip he went on as a child to see the film 'What A Carve Up!'


Along the way we hear from such characters as Findlay Onyx (Derek Jacobi) who has ties to the murder incident and a further incident that happened some 30 years earlier, Joan Simpson (Celia Imrie) who describes the Winshaw's as "their poison gets everywhere", Patrick Mills (Stephen Fry) the publisher who worked alongside Michael Owen. It's a talented company who all lend their vocal skill to the characters and add to the mystery.


This mystery certainly keeps you interested throughout, as we delve further into the past of these characters. The use of stock footage with the voice-overs is clever as it allows you to picture what the characters are discussing. Tamara Harvey has done a fine job with the direction, brilliantly wrapping everything together. Harry Smith has done an accomplished job with sound and music.


This is certainly a production fitting for these times (it's set now and there are references to Trump, Dominic Cummings and COVID). It's hard to imagine how you could create a better murder mystery in these challenging times. A fascinating watch.


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - a cleverly crafted intriguing murder mystery.


Tickets to stream What A Carve Up! can be purchased from https://www.whatacarveup.com/  with two ticket option available, the stream option and an option to stream including a goody bag (a programme and pre-show recipe cards by Darjeeling Express founder Asma Khan)

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