The OS Map Fan Club

Helen Wood delivers a bizarre, amiable love letter to the ordnance survey in The OS Map Fan Club. She is a companionable host, leading us through a virtual romp through the English countryside using her beloved map. This set-up conjures up visions of a choose-your-own-adventure, however the show’s structure is more haphazard than that, with facts about the OS Map interspersed with anecdotes about her own childhood.

As someone with brief OS experience there were times when I was interested in the lecture-like speech, but ultimately, this is perhaps a show for the specialist.

The writing is hit-and-miss but Wood does know how to deliver a joke well. However, she sometimes falters in her delivery and doesn’t have the most natural stage presence. Wood sets up a nice atmosphere for the crowd, and you settle into the show, feeling as though there should be a flask of tea in hand. The stage has a very pleasing set up that, while, feeling a bit DIY, doesn’t seem cheap, with a huge print-out of the OS map and pictures mounted for the audience to see. Unfortunately, some moments within the show felt like they were there to fill time. An uncomfortable section with some uninspired characterisation as part of the history of the OS map failed to get the desired laughs, tales from her own life are dropped into the script without any rhyme or reason and a bemusing moment of patriotic poetry loses the audience.

It’s fair to say if you’re as enthralled by the ordnance survey map as Helen Woods, this show will be far more enjoyable and you will get references that will go over the head of the average punter. As someone with brief OS experience there were times when I was interested in the lecture-like speech, but ultimately, this is perhaps a show for the specialist. Woods is a pleasant host but fails to hold the audience. The OS Map Fan Club is a nice way to begin your morning, however, and if you’re nostalgic for a time of analogue navigation, this is the show for you. 

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Join Ordnance Survey enthusiast, Helen Wood, for a humorous exploration of the much loved, fold-out, paper map. Be led on a fascinating, laughter-filled, virtual ramble and celebrate the simple beauty of Britain’s inspiring national treasure. This delightful solo comedy takes you along the ancient byways of the no.168, 4cm to 1km, explorer map. Meet colourful characters, hear amusing anecdotes and pause frequently to admire the view. OS fanatics, the OS curious and OS sceptics are all welcome at the OS Map Fan Club. 'Helen Wood displays a real talent for comedy’ (StroudNewsandJournal.co.uk: The Usherettes).