Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18)
5th-28th Aug (not 10,17 and 24th)
Native Cumbrian Jane Postlethwaite, now residing in Brighton, created the characters in her one woman sketch show Made In Cumbria in response to the cliched portrayal of “Northerners” from the South-weighted mainstream media. Tired of the thinking that anything said in a Northern accent was funny, she has created an array of characters who are very much Cumbrian to the core.
In one of the Fringe’s smaller venues, Postlethwaite bounces on stage as Karroll Karabiner Kavanagh, Cumbria’s number one survival expert (who sadly doesn’t extend her knowledge to ex-fiancée) and who quickly establishes there will be a lot of audience involvement in the show. Name tags are written and handed out to audience members and in such a small room, everyone is destined to play some part in the action.
Much fun is had in highlighting the many quirks of Cumbrians in general, and I fear for any audience member caught wearing a fleece at any of the performances. Some lucky viewers might get to try Kendall Mint Cake. Less lucky viewers might even have the misfortune of coming from (menacing whisper) …Yorkshire.
Of the main protagonists, only Stella Nova female astronaut doesn’t have a darkly damaged personality, and this is a good thing as she is probably the weakest of our Cumbrian characters. I found the tragic moments, like Falcon Ranger Kirsty Bird walking in to 80s power ballad On The Wings of Love and children’s author Joy Hope’s character assassination of Beatrix Potter to be the most titter inducing. Fans of Smack The Pony’s deadpan delivery style will love how Postlethwaite keeps a straight face while engaging with audience members about canine death, and during Mask Artist Mary Façade’s grotesque interpretative dance tribute to her recently deceased husband.
Postlethwaite’s natural and subtle performances are best suited to these darker moments, and I reckon when new characters are developed she could mine the Cumbrian sensibility for an even more tragically enjoyable set of stories. The range of characters presented suggests there probably is enough scope for More Made In Cumbria. Hop on this Cumbrian tour bus for an intimate show full of laughs, and be careful not to step too close to the edge of the mountain if Karroll is standing behind you.