REVIEW: The OS Map Fan Club (The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall) ★★★★

The OS Map Fan Club

The OS Map Fan Club is Helen Wood’s second solo comedy show where she shares with the audience her love of folded paper Ordnance Survey maps. She says the show is aimed at OS fanatics, the OS curious and even OS sceptics and those who use online mapping and GPS are welcome.

Dressed in her walking gear, rucksack on her back, Helen takes the audience on a virtual ramble around Tetbury using the Number 168, 4 centimeters to 1 kilometer OS Explorer Map which she has on display. We visit stately homes and stroll along ancient byways accompanied by Helen’s narrative and photos to bring it to life.

Helen is unashamedly a map nerd but this show is far from a dry lecture on the history of mapping in the UK. We get a glimpse of her childhood where her love of rambling in the countryside was born alongside introductions to key characters involved in setting up the Ordnance Survey that resulted in the UK having the best maps in the world. Helen engages the audience, involving them in the journey by asking them to look after the equipment, the flask, the sweets, the compass and even a trowel (but not for gardening!).

Helen Wood is a warm and engaging performer who entertains the audience with her fun and touching show. If you like walking and maps, or even if you just did your Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at school, you are likely to recognise familiar characters, or even yourself, in this show. After an hour in her company, I left the room a willing member of the OS Map Fan Club and keen to go out for a walk with Helen someday. This show had a short run in a small room this year and sold out every performance. It deserves a longer run and a bigger room next year.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans