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BWW Interview: Fiona Button Talks WHAT A CARVE UP!

Fiona Button talks starring in the online production and what she's missing about live theatre

BWW Interview: Fiona Button Talks WHAT A CARVE UP!
Fiona Button

Fiona Button, star of The Split and the Sara Pascoe comedy Out Of Her Mind, is currently starring in the new adaptation of Jonathan Coe's What A Carve Up!.

A completely online production, the show is a collaboration between three regional theatres: The Barn, Lawrence Batley and New Wolsey.

Fiona chats to us about the show, her experiences recording her part in isolation, and what she's missing about live theatre.

Can you tell us a bit about What A Carve Up!, and your role in it?

The online play is an adaptation of Jonathan Coe's original novel, reimagined for today. My character is Josephine Winshaw-Eaves and she's basically Katie Hopkins if she were Rupert Murdoch's daughter, but younger. A delight by all accounts....

What drew you to be a part of this unique project?

Tamara Harvey [the director] is brilliant and it's a razor-sharp adaptation from Henry Filloux-Bennett. Plus playing someone horrible is the most fun!

Your co-stars include Stephen Fry, Rebecca Front, Derek Jacobi and Sharon D.Clarke, but you've all recorded your parts in isolation - how did you find this process compared to the usual rehearsal room environment?

Entirely different! We had a filming day which, unsurprisingly, was like TV work rather than theatre, and then recording stuff on my own at home was interesting. I was walking around my street in a T-shirt saying 'Pussies for Trump', hoping the neighbours wouldn't notice...

The show can be streamed internationally - how are you feeling about bringing this play to such a global audience?

Well, I think it's wonderful that these theatres are going to be given this platform which, pre-pandemic, wouldn't have happened. So I guess that's a tiny ray of sunshine there.

You're also in Out of Her Mind on BBC2 - can you tell us a little bit about that?

Sara Pascoe has written a very smart and original sitcom, completely subverting the format. It's about a woman trying to prove to us that monogamy is bullshit whilst dealing with her sister's engagement.

How have you been coping during COVID-19?

I felt like the first lockdown went by pretty quickly in a whirl of panic and energy. Now, I feel like I'm sure most people do: pretty tired and depressed. I did a Zoom murder mystery the other night, which was pretty fun. Suggestion: combine that with watching What A Carve Up!.

What have you missed the most about theatres?

The energy and the buzz of a crowd, the unique liveness that only theatre can bring, the community, watching it, doing it. Everything.

This show is also raising funds to support theatres - why is it so important that theatres are financially supported, and what else can audiences do to help?

The situation is desperate. Theatres that don't get arts council funding are relying almost entirely on ticket sales. These venues will face closure if we don't do something.

If you can, support your local theatre by visiting their website and donating. And, of course, buy a ticket to What a Carve Up!.

Why should people watch this production?

Have you seen the cast list?? Seriously, though, it's a brilliant, gripping story and a truly unique piece of work.

What A Carve Up! is available to stream internationally until 29 November. Tickets are on sale now

Photo: Mollie Rose

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