Theatre Review: O No! at Sheffield Theatre’s Studio

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Jamie Wood’s O No! – a popular show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015 – came to Sheffield Theatre’s Studio for one night only, and was warmly received, writes Alan Payne.

It’s both an affectionate tribute to Yoko Ono and a take-off of the hippie utopianism that she and John Lennon promoted.

Yoko Ono owes her fame as a quirky minimalist artist in some part to her relationship with Lennon and the impact that had on popular consciousness.

She has always sought to blur the boundaries between art and the world, the performer and the audience, the private and the public.

Jamie Wood does likewise – encouraging the audience to discover connections with each other and become an integral part of the evening’s entertainment.

His relaxed style facilitates this slightly uncomfortable process. He’s as much stand-up comedian as ‘maker of theatre, clowning and dance’.

Some of the happenings which Yoko Ono became famous for are re-enacted, including Wood, dressed in black, inviting the audience to cut pieces from his dress.

Later his presentation of himself as the incarnation of both Yoko Ono and Lennon is strangely touching.

The show is punctuated by gun shots – a reminder of Lennon’s murder, but also of Yoko Ono’s courage in remaining true to herself in the ensuing years.

At the end the audience combines in a bizarre rendering of Imagine – some playing a variety of home-made instruments – in an anthem to an alternative vision of the world.