Comedy review: Helen Keen

HELEN KEEN: THE PRIMITIVE METHODIST GUIDE TO ARCTIC SURVIVAL

GILDED BALLOON TEVIOT (VENUE 14)

WHETHER by design or accident, Helen Keen seems to have struck upon the ideal format for her early afternoon time slot – geekily amusing, enthusiastically presented shows with only the occasional unintended euphemism to prevent them being enjoyed by everyone but the very youngest.

As with last year's history of rocket science – It Is Rocket Science! – this account of her great, great, great-grandfather's ill-fated voyage to the Arctic recalls the BBC's Open University shows The Mark Steel Lectures, in so far as an interesting period is evoked but only truly brought to life by the intriguing tangents of trivia she allows herself to explore, those little footnotes of eccentric behaviour by big-bearded, earnest men that undermine the po-faced official record.

Although it's slightly too wide-ranging to wholly satisfy, probably owing to the scarcity of source material, I found myself consistently rapt, and was especially fascinated by the origins of refrigerated food. QI fans should find plenty to engage them here.

Where Keen differs from Steel though, is that she uses history to prompt some personal insights, allowing her to establish a clear lineage from her whale-hunting ancestor to herself and, in the process, revealing how she, a perkily well-spoken Blue Peter presenter-in-waiting, comes from Hull working-class stock.

JAY RICHARDSON

Until 31 August. Today 12:45pm.

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