The Barn Theatre have been one of the saviours of theatre in this challenging year, not only producing a wealth of online content during the first lockdown but re-opening their doors and producing some amazing shows both outdoors and indoors. Their ability to adapt with the ever-changing times while never slowing down their constant outpouring of content has been nothing short of inspirational, so it was incredibly fitting that their biggest online release to date came on the same day the second lockdown was announced. Theatre fans needed a release after the horrifying news of the day and The Barn Theatre were on hand to give a welcome distraction from the harsh reality that is 2020.
What A Carve Up! is a collaboration between The Barn Theatre, Lawrence Batley Theatre and New Wolsey Theatre. A crime drama based on the novel by Jonathan Coe, the show looks back at a murder from 30 years ago to try to get to the bottom of what happened. This is achieved through clever storytelling, centred with two different narratives - an interview with a family member and a video filmed from the main suspects son, played brilliantly by the superbly talented Alfred Enoch. Over the course of the show, we dig through the evidence to find out all may not have been as it seemed.
The show is distinctly different from other online shows you would have watched this year. Made with clever editing and high production values, this looks more like a real life documentary you would watch on Netflix like 'Making A Murderer'. The level of believability is testament to how much care has gone into making this production. While it is undoubtedly a tad slow to start with, once you get in to the heart of the story, you are hooked - utterly captivated throughout every single minute of the drama.
The performances are consistently top notch throughout which is no surprise when you consider the acting royalty that signed up to take part in this. Sharon D. Clarke, Stephen Fry and Sir Derek Jacobi are just some of the household names in the show. A standout performance comes from Fiona Button as Josephine Winshaw-Eaves - a character so loathsome, you have to stop yourself throwing things at your screen.
While the murder itself is set 30 years ago, current themes are still explored throughout the show with explicit references to Trump, Meghan Markle, the phone hacking scandal and even this years furlough scheme all being mentioned. While theatre us a great form of escapism, there is definitely something cathartic about laughing through some of the more worrying aspects of modern life. Tense but at times laugh out loud funny, this is one of the best pieces of online theatre that has been produced since the world changed.
Ultimately this is a highly enjoyable and captivating show, with fantastic production values and incredible performances from some of the best talent this country has to offer. The result is a masterclass in online theatre and shows that, while theatres may not be able to fully open for the time being, with creatives like this there will always be new and brilliant content able for us all to consume.
What A Carve Up! is available to stream until November 29th. Tickets can be booked at https://www.whatacarveup.com/