STAGE REVIEW: O No! @ Northern Stage, Newcastle (29.10.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Jack Taylor Gotch

I’ve never rubbed beards with another person. I’ve never cut clothes from the body of an artist, and I’ve never let a roomful of strangers touch me in the dark. Thanks to Jamie Wood (and, vicariously, Yoko Ono) I have now.

In 1964 conceptual artist and future Beatle bride Yoko Ono published Grapefruit, an instruction manual for the staging of avant-garde artistic happenings. Joining many white male artists over the years who’ve inadvertently made the work more acceptable by merely doing the things Ono did, performer and director Wood goes one further, subverting and entirely puncturing the presupposed cosmic seriousness of the happenings in his warm, unforgettable show.

Heavy in audience participation to the point of breaking through the other side of forced public intimacy and landing a rapturous ending, several artistic happenings from Grapefruit go down, the most extraordinary of which involved a member of the audience getting into a bag with Wood, stripping completely naked then sitting down to talk about love, bagged and by torchlight.

A psychedelic ride with no room for non-participants, O No! is a heartfelt homage to the person forever damned (wrongly) for breaking up the Beatles, and to the deep love they shared with John Lennon. If you weren’t friends with anyone in the audience at the start, you were intimately connected with them by the end.

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