Review: What Kind of Fool am I?

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Helen Wood is no ordinary woman. She’s not famous, and she isn’t a multi-millionaire or a great leader of humankind, but in her own way, she has led a very interesting life. And in this unusual and surprising one-woman show, she tells us all about it. Through the biographical material, Helen weaves information and observations about a personality ‘system’ that she loves, called The Enneagram (a bit like Myers Briggs only easier to understand). Which of the nine personality types does Helen fit into? And how do various characters in her life, who we learn about, fit into it too? The audience is also gently invited to consider their own personalities –  Wood gives us some really substantial food for thought to take away.

Her story is deftly told with a large collection of ingenious props that would defeat most performers, but which she uses with such grace and fun that we are enchanted and amused by them all. Her manner is warm and conversational, and she is confessional without seeking shock for its own sake – though there is at least one moment of chilling sadness. She plays a few characters, such as Freud and Goethe, her dog, and her friends, and is self-mocking in the way that the most intelligent performers are. What endears an audience to a real-life solo show is hearing about the subject’s vulnerabilities and missteps in life, but not to the degree that we feel afraid for them. Wood straddles that line expertly. This is an absorbing, charming and very funny piece that would appeal to those who give some thought to their inner lives, and are hungry for the help of a wise, wry woman in doing so.


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