Just when you think you haven’t been treated to enough silliness at the festival, you find yourself in the basement of Roxy Assembly watching Jamie Wood’s bonkers and joyful homage to Yoko Ono and John Lennon. His opening manifesto for what is to unfold includes, ‘No cynicism’, ‘No taking advantage of John Lennon’s Death’ and absolutely ‘No cheap laughs’. One out of 3 isn’t bad, for there’s not a whiff of cynicism to be had in his tangentially strung together brainchild.
Taking direction from Yoko Ono’s meditational Art Instructions, Wood invites members of the audience to partake in such activities as cutting off parts of his clothes and taking the opportunity to touch the people around you in a darkened auditorium. It edges on the dangerous – I mean who trusts a member of the public to approach you with scissors or hammer a nail into a wooden heart pressed to your chest? – but he lulls us into a child like trust with his authentically warm positivity. Testimony to this is the guy who volunteers himself for the ‘celebration of glorious, uncomfortable intimacy’, undressing and dressing with Wood inside a duvet whilst being probed about the first time he fell in love.
O No! tickles out of you a variety of different laughs, from the nervous giggle to the thigh slapping guffaw. Cleverly and sincerely, Wood also makes space for the material to be really quite moving. The recording of his own mother’s reflections on love and life is deeply poignant and the answers he illicits from within the duvet are delicately teased out, giving us the privilege of sharing in this intimacy.
The set and the props are intentionally makeshift and wittily childlike. This fits perfectly with the show’s ramshackle and almost whimsical nature, climaxing brilliantly in an audience-led orchestra of bird whistles and car horns. In the moments where the tangents wander off too far and I think he’s lost me, the Master of Ceremonial Madness brings me back in with something delightful and wonderfully silly. Go on, treat yourself.