Cards on the table I hate audience interaction in the theatre. It usually places its audience in a tense situation and so less unable to relax, enjoy and give themselves fully to a piece of work and at its worst gives performers an unfair edge which can be manipulated cruelly. If I could I would create a bill that banned shows from doing it outside of panto season. However Jamie Wood’s O No! may make me reconsider my stance: a great hug of a show that asks its audience to do more and give more of themselves than any show I have seen, both in physical terms (someone stripping their clothes off in a blanket with him) and also emotionally in intimate conversations about love. Yet he does this in such a gentle and nurturing way that we he creates frissons of love, never coercion. I have never felt so connected to my fellow audience members as I did at the end of this. Although I didn’t fall in love (maybe I just needed to stay in the bar afterwards) there is still a warm glow in my stomach the day after, not far off those fuzzy warm glows.
Channelling Yoko Ono’s live art happenings in the shadow of John Lennon’s assassinations it is a psychedelic trip into a time before the world of instant online connectivity and social media. A world where high art still matters, where questions of intellect and spirituality were closely in sync and where the hippy ideal connected people closer to their fellow man. Ultimately it is a performance about love, about how that is the one thing that connects us all It is deep and moving and that would be enough to recommend it but then he makes it laugh our loud funny for eighty minutes too.
Some art is not meant to be analysed but to be felt. Wood’s work transcends the words I write, like the best theatre it reminds me what it is to be alive. Beautiful.