Cartography, C Nova, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
The Lincoln Company in association with Flickbook Theatre.
Tom Briggs (writer / director), Jozey Wade (musical director).
Becky Sowter (Sarah), Tom Briggs, Phoebe Wall-Palmer, Jozey Wade.
Running time

This, or something like it, has existed since the Fifteenth Century, says Sarah while examining a world globe and before launching into a cartography lesson involving audience members, twine and trigonometry.

Life seems to be mapped out for Sarah, defined by her past, her job, her friends and interfering mother. She spends her days in the map shop she inherited from her father along with a heart condition that was his demise. Sarah is on a quest to fill the hole in her heart.

Her mother would like to see her set her sights outside, perhaps into dating. She herself is a convert to the lure of the exotic, spending time with her own partner Luigi, who may be less foreign than he seems.

Well-meaning customer John is keen to travel to get a sense of place; he feels the need to do something drastic but fears commitment. He is also keen to break Sarah out of her safe zone and so they set out to tackle the heights of Scarfell. With a clutch of maps, including the 1947 Ordnance Survey sheet, “just for fun”, they follow the directions of Alfred Wainwright, the real-life fellwalker and author of pictorial guides, who is to Sarah part hero and part imaginary friend. As the landscape opens up so does Sarah, moving from maps to mountains.

Geographical and emotional distance will come into play as John moves away for work and Sarah undertakes a pilgrimage beyond topography into uncharted territory, learning about herself, her family and the dangers of stopping in Stevenage. Life goes on, but there is an ominous countdown of heartbeats, apparently allotted in fixed amounts, and time and the road may be running out.

The story is told against the backdrop of line drawings cast by an old-school overhead projector and is accompanied by songs and the ubiquitous ukulele - the default soundtrack of quirky indy films and stage plays. The feel will be familiar to anyone who has read the works of John Green, author of A Fault in Our Stars, and similarly it manages to pull off big issues, like the fleeting nature of life, in an accessible way.

It’s neatly done with well performed original songs and performances that are are warm and winning. Some of the audience participation; reading lines and providing foley effects is probably unnecessary and a second excursion with string distracts from a fairly major plot point.

While it could have a bit more heart and the peaks are not quite high enough nor valleys sufficiently deep to lift it off the map, this gentle début tale of triumph of the inner geek provides a breath of fresh air to start your day on the Fringe.

Show Times: 5 to 31 (not 18) August 2015 at 12:00 noon.

Ticket Prices: £8.50 (£6.50) to £10.50 (£8.50).

Suitability: PG