6th November 2023
Whilst theatres have been mainly closed, several theatres have come up with innovative ways to share stories with audiences. The Barn Theatre, the Laurence Batley Theatre and the New Wolsey Theatre have come together to create an online production of Henry Filloux-Bennett’s What A Carve Up! It is a great piece based on Jonathan Coe’s novel of the name, telling the story of the mass killing of the Winshaw family on their estate. It takes the form of a documentary but it is performed by some excellent actors.
Tamara Harvey directs the production and she does a terrific job. It is fairly simple with most of the piece being centred around Raymond Owen (played by Alfred Enoch), the son of suspected murderer Michael Owen, telling the story from his understanding and perspective, and an interview with Josephine Winshaw-Eaves (played by Fiona Button), the only remaining member of the Winshaw family. The simplicity of the film helps to ground it in the story and the people surrounding it. Mark Kendrick also must be credited for his work as editor. The film is completely slick and could easily be seen on Netflix or the BBC.
Alfred Enoch plays Raymond Owen and his performance is completely gripping. He helps to bring the story into the modern day and it is framed as if he is creating a YouTube video on his father’s story. Fiona Button does a tremendous job as Josephine Winshaw-Eaves. She is perfectly vile and full of herself. Completing the leading trio, Tamzin Outhwaite plays the interviewer and she is equally outstanding. The interview feels completely believable – you easily forget both are actors.
The rest of the cast is filled with some huge names who all do tremendous voiceovers. Celia Imrie gives a great performance as Joan Simpson, who details Michael Owen’s start as a writer. Stephen Fry is perfectly cast as Patrick Mills, Owen’s publicist. Derek Jacobi plays Finlay Onyx, a private investigator, and he does a great job as the slightly untrustworthy officer. Finally, Griff Rhys Jones also gives a strong performance as John Stephens and Sharon D. Clarke, although slightly underused, makes a great Kim Bolton.
What A Carve Up is a great retelling of Jonathan Coe’s novel and brings it brilliantly into the modern day, as we look back on the events. The film is available to watch online daily until 29th November. Tickets are £12 or £16 for a goody bag as well, which includes a programme and recipe cards. They can be purchased here.