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PULSE FESTIVAL 2016: Jamie Wood – O No!

Writer and Performer: Jamie Wood
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Venue: New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich


TRH-Critics-Choice-4starwebMidway through any festival we all need some sunshine in our lives, and Jamie Wood offers it. A melange of wild hair, beard and nappy, Wood opens his show with the instruction to ‘Take the sun and pass it round’ as a giant yellow gym ball is passed around the audience.

It’s an illuminating start to a show that doesn’t just knock down the fourth wall between performer and audience but totally explodes it – all with peace and love of course!

For many, Yoko Ono is viewed as the woman behind The Beatles split, but Wood is more focused on love here. Inspired by Ono’s book Grapefruit, her, what can only be described as surreal, book of instructions and inspiration for conceptual art installations and projects. Wood sets out to recreate several of these, while at the same time talk about his own love.

It’s a love we are invited to share, the lights are turned off in the theatre and we are invited to touch a stranger, two audience members are invited to join Wood on stage to represent Lennon and Ono’s love in cloud form – joined by a lusty Sun, a nail is hammered into Wood’s (wooden) heart.

We are invited to venture onto stage to cut sections from Woods clothing. Such is his warmth and his engaging style that when he sets out to recreate another of Ono’s conceptual pieces, two people getting naked and then getting dressed again inside a giant bag(duvet cover) on stage, a brave volunteer readily agrees to join him.

It is a piece of extreme silliness, one that never takes itself, or Ono’s inspirational text too seriously. Given that one of the provocations in the book states “Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in” it is not always an easy book to take seriously. Wood though is never cruel, his bizarre openness allowing us into a happier world filled with love and light.

Darker moments do briefly intrude, references to John Lennon’s assassination punctuate scenes, but by the time we are all joining in a ramshackle improvised orchestra performing a unique version of Imagine its no longer a case of O No! but a rousing O Yes!

Reviewed on 31 May 2016: | Image: Jack Taylor Gotch


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