Review: 10 Things to Do in a Small Cumbrian Town at Alphabetti Theatre

Hannah Sowerby's satirical play is funny and tackles important topics.

Ruby Taylor
4th December 2021
Image Credit: Alphabetti Theatre, Matt Jamie
Written and starred in by Hannah Sowerby, 10 Things to Do in a Small Cumbrian Town will have you cracking up the whole way through. However, you won’t be getting any ideas for your Lake District holiday from this satirical play... 

The story follows 19-year old Jodie, stranded in Penrith whilst all her friends have gone to university. More than anything else, Jodie wants to be a writer but instead is stacking shelves at Sainsbury’s, living with her foul-mouthed Nana, and feeling disillusioned by her home town. 

What stands out about this play is the comedy. As it’s a one-woman show, it almost feels like stand-up, with hilarious lines coming before you’ve recovered from the last. Sowerby plays the character of Jodie, as well as those she interacts with, and is very funny as everyone. Jodie’s Nana, portrayed in video segments projected onto the set, is a highlight, showering down swear words throughout the whole show. 

As well as being hilarious, the play tackles important topics. Jodie is bisexual, and her story reveals the joys and the challenges of being a queer young woman. It shows how difficult it can be to find other LGBT+ people when you don’t live in a city, with Jodie going on a Tinder date with her high school friend’s mum because there were no other gay women in the area.  

The play reveals the challenges of mental illness for young people and the importance of getting help.

The play reveals the challenges of mental illness for young people and the importance of getting help. Jodie struggles with her mental health throughout the story, and sometimes she does not get the right support she needs, but it is lovely to see a character in therapy from the start of the story.  

The show works really well in the intimate setting of Alphabetti, as you feel immersed in the action. Sowerby addresses the audience in Fleabag-like breaks of the fourth wall, providing both comedic and emotional internal insights about Jodie. Along with your ticket, everyone receives a pin badge, making you feel even more like you’d had an experience with her.  

The set, designed by Anna Robinson, was almost entirely made from cardboard boxes, used as anything from a tractor, to the sofa, Jodie gets off with her friend’s mum on. The boxes at the back of the stage were made into features of Penrith, such as the Beacon and Penrith Castle. The design feels warm like someone has lovingly crafted their hometown from the materials they have available to them. 

10 Things to Do in a Small Cumbrian Town is lovely and full of hope, as well as beautifully revealing the struggles of being a young person. The show is on until Saturday 11th December, and it will guarantee you a riot of a night out, with a few tears to accompany.  

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AUTHOR: Ruby Taylor
Sub-editor for Arts. First year English Literature and Creative Writing student.

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