Digital Theatre is something both makers and lovers of the arts have had to learn to love and adapt to pretty quickly. A digital show will never give quite the same feeling as a live show, but it’s still innovative and exciting.
What A Carve Up! is an exciting collaboration produced by The Barn Theatre (Cirencester), Lawrence Batley Theatre (Huddersfield) and New Wolsey Theatre (Ipswich). The piece is a thrilling murder mystery written by Henry Filloux-Bennett, based on the award-winning novel by Jonathan Coe, and directed by Tamara Harvey.
The shows description is brief, yet to the point: “January 1991. Six people are dead. Murdered. One thing in common – they are members of one of the most corrupt, powerful and toxic families in the country. One prime suspect – the celebrated writer in the middle of compiling a history of the family. A simple open and shut case? Anything but.”
If like me, you love a good crime drama, then it should be right up your street. What I hadn’t really processed prior to watching this, was that it was a political satire piece as well as a murder mystery. The former is not a genre I’m as familiar with, so I actually had to keep checking it was fiction! I think that’s the beauty of satire, if done well, it becomes believable and real (or maybe I’m just gullible, or able to believe anything after 2020). The way The Winshaw family are written, cleverly embodies traits and the interests of powerful members of society that we know, or have known of; either in the period in which its set of the 80’s or even in the modern world. The story feels rather relevant and timely, and it’s a dark, witty and gripping piece.
The cast is strong, Alfred Enoch leads as Raymond Owen – working almost as narrator of the show. I really enjoyed the way he addressed the audience and drove the show. Meanwhile, Fiona Button as Josephine Winshaw-Eaves opposite Tamzin Outhwaite as the 2020 Interviewer was a joy to watch as they bounced off each other with great tension. Many famous voices pop-up too, including the likes of Stephen Fry, Celia Imrie, Derek Jacobi, Griff Rhys Jones and Sharon D Clarke to name a few.
As for the digital experience, it’s definitely different. This feels a bit more like a film than a play, which I think is tough to avoid when creating original pieces like this. That said, I could see it working on stage and it works. It gets you on a murder mystery guessing game, blurring the lines of real life and fiction and gives a fun evenings entertainment. A worthwhile watch for the gloomy Autumn evenings that lie ahead.
The show is available to purchase for £12 (or £16 to receive a physical goody bag, UK only) until Sunday 29th November. Once purchased, you have 48hrs to watch it. Visit whatacarveup.com for more information and tickets, and join in the conversation with @CarveUpUK #CarveUpUK on social media.