Helen Wood has returned to the fringe with her 2017 sell out show, The OS Map Fan Club: a celebration of British eccentricity at its best and the national treasure that is the Ordnance Survey Map. The title of this show conjures images of bucolic landscapes, thermos flasks and plus fours – an image not shaken by Wood’s appearance on stage in full munro-bagging kit and a t-shirt made from an OS tea towel.
Having established that we are amongst friends – and once all sat-nav users have been silenced – the audience is taken on a virtual ramble around Wood’s own stomping ground of South Gloucestershire with the aid of a giant OS Map and a collection of photo boards. It’s a very clever construct, which allows fascinating facts, generous dollops of humour and some entertaining personal anecdotes to be blended in a seamless way. This is an educational hour too: a five minute romp through map history sees Wood transmogrify, with the help of some head gear, into Napoloeon (amongst others). And who knew the difference between a round and square church map symbol?
Wood is a warm and friendly tour guide, quickly building a strong rapport with the audience who are inveigled into flag-waving and other important tasks. Her use of vocabulary is superb and well-scripted, edited by comedy coach Chris Head. Another touch of theatricality is added to the performance through an appropriate sound track.
This show has it all: suspense (no spoilers given), a small sprinkling of double entendres here and there, and even a nod to feminism. It will educate, amuse and delight in equal measure and is a must see for ramblers and couch potatoes alike.