Made in Cumbria

Postlethwaite is a likeable stage presence whose manifestation of five deliciously dark women creates some very funny moments. She clearly has great fun bringing to life some fairly pitiable but relatable characters and this entirely self written solo show is neatly bookended to form an entertainingly worthwhile hour.

This is a well timed and brilliantly delivered performance

Of the five Cumbrian characters she introduces us to (six if you consider our parochial, disembodied radio host who provides the cover for her quick and simple costume changes, also voiced by Postlethwaite) it is the middle appearances that amuse most.

Joy Hope is a children's author and illustrator that you would keep well away from children but who has been instructed by her publisher to smile whilst reading from her latest tale of dysfunctional woodland animals. There is a distinctly chilling quality to her gaze as she enquires of one audience member whether they are afraid that while they are here their house is being burgled? With narrowed eyes and mouth the audience is suddenly rather afraid but not for their houses. This physical habitation of her creations and in particular her facial expressions and subtle accent changes are the stand out strength of Postlethwaite and I suspect that she could fully convince without the costumes at all.

Stella Nova, the first Northern female astronaut, is less of a character and more of a prop to illuminate the dismal hilarity to be found in society's view of women. During a radio 'Q and A phone in' she fields such inane questions as 'do you need a bra in space? 'What is your skin care regime? And 'your hair looks great'. Once again it is her mainly wordless facial reactions to these questions that trigger some of the biggest laugh out loud points of the show. 

Many of the rest of the moments are more of the prolonged smiles variety and it feels as though there are more jokes that could be had with further engineering to the script. Kirsty Bird is a nervous Falconer giving an educational talk. She has a seriously funny and topical starting point: being terrified of her own malevolent falcon, as well as the world in general, but this is not developed and it really could be a highlight section of the show. 

Aside from one or two funny observations on the topics of survival, murder and Kendle Mint Cake our first Cumbrian lass in the form of survival expert Karroll Kavannagh and our last in the form of Brie Fromage whose life has been turned around by a combination of Yoga and Kung fu are less memorable and whilst the tie the show together they take a back seat to the more original middle characters who are a lot more fresh and fun to get to know. This is a show that deserves a much stronger final character although the story arc is perfect.

This is a well timed and brilliantly delivered performance that with a small venue, holds onto the treat like quality of being entertained by a very funny friend. Worth seeing before she perfects the script and starts filling bigger venues.

Reviews by Julia French

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The Blurb

Made in Cumbria will introduce you to a selection of dark female characters who will welcome you into their unique world. Jane Postlethwaite is a Funny Women Finalist 2015 and Brighton Comedy Festival Squwaker Award Finalist 2015.The show has been described as “Surprisingly dark Cumbrian observational commentary” – Latest Magazine.