Having attending the excellent festival launch night at the Frog and Bucket the previous night and perused the shows on offer, this was one I was very excited about.
Being an exiled Cumbrian I was naturally drawn to a show set in my native homeland and even more so realising it was set on Derwent Water. A place I spent much of my youth and a couple of summers working when back home as a student.
The House is set at Derwent Island House, a Grade II listed building owned by the National Trust marooned an island in the middle of Derwent Water on the outskirts of my hometown, Keswick.
It was the thing of legend growing up as there was rumours of wolves guarding the house and ghosts wandering the shores. Rumour has it was even a brothel back in the day (according to my mum!) but i’m not sure there would be much subtlety in visiting a brass house which is on an island!
Jane Postlethwaite it turns out is also from Cumbria and this appears to be a common theme in her shows as her Fringe show the previous year was called ‘Made in Cumbria’.
The show was in the back room of Gulliver NQ, a place we have now become well acquainted over the last year. A small intimate gig, however by the team we arrive it is pretty full.
It is slightly unnerving that upon entering i’m handed a sticker with the word ‘naturist’ on it and a pen to write my name. It is clear the show is to be very interactive, however at this point i’m worried how interactive!
Jane takes the guise of numerous characters who live and work at the house and the first character we are introduced to is ‘Nana’ (Edith Lavender), who comes from a long line of Nanas and isn’t shy to welcome the crowd as part of her role as freelance Nana.
We’re on the end of some vigorous Nana hugs, welcomed into her very ample Nana bosom! It is a great opener and a lot of crowd interaction to bring everyone on side and feel at home in ‘The House’. However things were not all as nice as they seemed…
It transpires there has been a murder on the island, but who is the murderer? We meet a creepy child (Marion Ette), a Falconer (Kirsty Bird), Hematologist Greta Grunhouse and the very joyless Joy Hope, a children’s novelist who hates children.
The plot follows the murders and draws the crowd on stage to help summon the birds and join in the play room podcast, reaching a crescendo when she invites an audience member on stage to do a reading (which happens to be me!) however all is not as it seems and takes a dark twist…
The House is a wonderfully dark, surreal and fun tale with a brilliantly absurd set off characters. Unfortunately this was the last showing of the House but Postlethwaite is sure to be back at Edinburgh next year with more character based fun and frolics!
The Women in Comedy Festival runs until Sunday 29th October and event listings can be found here.
For info on Jane Postlethwaite’s upcoming gigs and shows you can check out her Facebook page