Sunday, February 25

What A Carve Up! – Barn Theatre

There’s nothing the public loves more than a conspiracy. “True-crime” is becoming ever more popular. Podcasts and documentaries alike feed the audience’s appetite for a scandal. A showcase of evidence with an unravelling case and the viewer thinks that they’re more informed than the judge. Barn Theatre’s production satisfies this appetite with a helping of contemporary British satire.

Six members of the influential Winshaw family are found butchered in their mansion. There is one clear suspect; the writer who is about to publish a tell-all account of their corruption. The writer’s son (Alfred Enoch) takes us through the case and exposes the coincidences and revelations that he has found.

Enoch is the perfect narrator; instantly captivating and convincing. He guides us through the twists and turns whilst sitting intensely in front of an investigation board. The casting team must be immensely proud of themselves as the array of voice-actors is phenomenal. They have delivered a who’s who of British theatre from Griff Rhys Jones to Rebecca Front. Jacobi is delightful as a scandalous detective; whilst Stephen Fry and Celia Imrie impress with emotional accounts of their involvement.

By taking little jabs at Dominic Cummings and Trump, Henry Filloux-Bennett peppers the original text with hidden gems of current events. The archive footage would not seem out of place in a Netflix series and that’s the genius of the piece. It may seem to adhere to all the norms of a crime documentary, but the dark humour and political commentary create moments of comedy within it.

Although most of the play is tapes and evidence, there is an interview that is central to it. The only living Winshaw (Fiona Button) is interrogated by an interviewer (Tamzin Outhwaite) on the case and her family’s past. Button is hilarious as oblivious, silver-spooned Josephine and Outhwaite’s offhand reactions to her comments are brilliant.

The direction of Tamara Harvey is inspiring. Thankfully the play is compelling and succeeds in distracting us for a while. This compact online offering has all the drama of a binge-worthy TV show and the excitement of the theatre. As Josephine, ranting on the arts in a pro-Trump shirt, “We’ve got Netflix babes, we don’t need you anymore”.  A stance it seems that all creatives are hearing from the government. Well, this play leads me to say, “I beg to differ!”

Streaming online until 29th November

Streaming online until 29th November

Reviewer: Coral Mourant

Reviewed: 31st October 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★