Jamie Wood – O No!

★★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2015

There's no one at the Fringe like Jamie Wood – probably no one on the planet. Experiencing his surreal imagination is like being sucked down a rabbit hole full of joy. And his latest one-man show is no less exhilarating, as you emerge, blinking, into the far less fun real world afterwards.

O No! is ostensibly based on Yoko Ono's art book, Grapefruit, full of po-faced artistic suggestions. But this hour-long show is actually as elastic as the string on which Wood hangs Ono's tome. A jumble of hair and beard, he's a nappy-wearing, hippy-looking, comic Robinson Crusoe, playfully testing our boundaries as he solemnly asks us to climb inside a bag with him or pretend a beachball is the sun.

There's gentle mockery here, but never cynicism: Wood's skill is in creating a kind of nervous energy out of his unpredictability that brings us all together in (sometimes incredulous) laughter. Against tie-dyed sheets, he turns Ono and John Lennon's one-world schtick into something between conceptual theatre and a playground.

And it's also a love story—as only Wood could tell—about his relationship with his girlfriend and their new baby. Lennon becomes the soundtrack to a life lived laterally on stage, and it's both strange and touching.

Of course, the effect of such free-wheeling audience interaction is often as chaotic and baggy as the bags he sometimes shuffles around in (somehow resembling Dougal from The Magic Roundabout), but if you have any sense, you won't want it any other way.