Jamie Wood: I Am A Tree

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
31501_large
Jamie Wood
Published 20 Aug 2017

To rewilden, Jamie Wood explains, is to reintroduce a species nearing extinction into nature. It involves releasing tame creatures back into the wild. The question beneath his third solo show is whether that might work for humans too – or, at the very least, for artists called Jamie Wood.

Stuck in a cramped London flat with a stressed partner and a teething son, artistically bunged up, Wood made like a wild horse and “ran away.” The death of his grandfather, at 101, provided the perfect excuse for an ash-scattering pilgrimage – and a chance to return to his roots and to nature.

I Am A Tree is the fruit of that journey: a dotty display of contemporary clowning. Wood trekked across South West Wales, greeting the sun, beckoning to birds and, er, booking himself AirBnbs at the first spots of rain. It’s a self-mocking thing. Dressed in a doti, sometimes tooting an antler, Wood lets loose his inner guru. Spiritual sayings come via Google Translate and bara brith becomes an indigenous drug. He chows down on a red balloon "heart" and dances round a felt campfire. You hear the hum of passing cars in his field recordings. How wild, really, is it possible to be?

Wood puts that to the test, coaxing audience members to unleash their inner beasts, but the joke’s best when there’s no knowing how knowing this is, and Wood’s full-hempen hokum can feel somewhat contrived. That leaves the family connection under-explored in a sweet little show that’s completely barking.