Oh No! is joyously glorious! A facilitated adult’s playground contained within the theatre walls. As the audience enter the Wardrobe theatre the smell of joss sticks in the air transporting us back to our teenage bedrooms. Jamie Wood waits by the door and greets each and every audience member individually, he has wind chimes hanging from his fingers and ears. As people are seated he invites people to play the chimes hanging from his body, he deeply appreciates any musical effort and genuinely communicates patience and acceptance.
As the performance begins Jamie appears on stage looking remarkably like Jesus, humming as if in meditation and carrying the sun. He demands attention from every single eye in the theatre through his ability to be utterly authentically devoted to the present moment.
Deliciously childlike, Jamie dances in a bag with his toes peeking out amidst raucous laughter. Upon emerging he speaks to the audience individually naming their beauty and drawing a web of connectivity. Jamie tickles laughs from the depths of bellies simply by exercising his eyebrows.
The skill in which Jamie Woods builds anticipation from the audience, setting up expectations and then delivery them, ensures that he is masterfully bathing in waves of laughter time and time again. I did note that the audience was spectacularly juicy tonight. I recognised a whole front row of seasoned performers from ‘Beyond The Ridiculous’ in the audience. I’d be interested to see Oh No! performed in a theatre where the audience needed a little more massaging to get them going. However you are pretty much guaranteed an audience up for participation at the Wardrobe Theatre.
Story-telling in a bag, playing catch with the sun and channelling the spirits of John Lennon and Yoko Ono through clouds were a few of the moments the audience were encouraged and held by Jamie Woods to perform. Jamie has a unique ability to hold a safe space, I think many people who would normally say no, would have to say yes to Jamie. The highlight of the show was tenderly and unexpectedly created from asking a volunteer to get in his giant bag and take their clothes of and put them back on again. Playful giggles bubbled out from under the cloth and when they’d finished the bag was a den, child’s play, tears shed and secrets shared. The beauty of authenticity touched everyone who witnessed the open tenderness of this moment.
The culmination of this juicy joining in was a musical masterpiece, a chaotic cacophony and as it came to its ultimate climax and the lights went up, people turned to each other and said ‘What just happened?’ They left with eyes sparkling with magic stars and flew out of the wardrobe into the night.
A kaleidoscope of vulnerability, creativity, imagination and snippets of silliness – you’d be a fool to miss this one – part of Mayfest, it’s only here in Bristol for one more night. Go book a ticket right now.
Mayfest shows in Venues all over Bristol until 22nd May
Review by Anita MacCallum