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Ludlow Fringe Festival 2019

The O.S. Map Fan Club

Helen Wood

Genre: Character Stand up

Venue: The Sitting Room at the Blue Boar, Ludlow


Low Down

Helen Wood brings her wonderful, quirky and engaging show to the edge of the Shropshire Hills, guaranteeing her a sell-out evening to an eager audience of OS Map devotees.


Some of us just walk for pleasure and some of us are scrupulous users of Ordnance Survey maps. Helen Wood’s show appeals to the latter camp and during this whimsical and hugely entertaining evening she weaves her own self-deprecating and endearing humour with a magical array of facts, props and simple sweetness – Kendal Mint Cake naturally.

There’s a great deal of the English eccentric to Helen Wood, obsessing over facts and correct procedures on a walk. She champions the heroes (in her book) who collect every single OS Map, conquer every single trig point and, in the case of her own mother, organise a hiking expedition when four months pregnant. The show could run the risk of simple parody of a certain ‘outdoor’ type (think Mike Leigh’s ‘Nuts In May’)  but in her hands we become charmed by her innocent enthusiasm coupled with the occasional and welcome spiky moments of real insight. As the narrative unfurls so do a wonderful array of props that she uses to guide us through the story. The OS 168 map itself used as a walking tour route (and also covering anything on stage that doesn’t move), the wigs and hats to tell the history and her unpacking of the rucksack to distribute its contents to her audience kept everyone thoroughly engaged. I was particularly charmed by the verse she read out which could have been predictable doggerel from that ‘Outdoor Type’ but her using the OS symbols as source material made for incredibly witty and crafted poetry.

All in all a beautifully crafted and delightful show. Helen is already established up in Edinburgh this summer with 24 shows, so do get a ticket and with it the fresh air that this performance brings.