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I am a Tree review at Assembly, Edinburgh – ‘a bubble of calm and contemplation’

Jamie Woods Jamie Woods

Jamie Wood is lost, or maybe he’s just lost something. Or maybe we’re all lost, all cut adrift after the concussive political and social blows of the past 18 months. I am a Tree, Wood’s follow up to the tremendous O No! chronicles his attempt to find himself again, a travelogue for an impromptu 150 mile walk to his grandparents’ birthplace. A journey into the wild.

This being Jamie Wood, the experience is more like group therapy than watching a show. With infinite kindness and care, Wood draws the audience onstage, out of themselves, into the rag-tag stage world he has created. Perched between shaman and absurdist clown, Wood takes his time and coaxes his volunteers into soothing hugs, or ecstatic bird impersonations.

There are fewer grand moments of euphoria here than in earlier work; the actions and activities here feel almost too ephemeral and tentative. But there’s no artist out there who creates a warmer, more considered environment or relationship with his audience. His theme here may be the great wild world, but it’s more like a cocoon, a bubble of calm and contemplation that we’re all-too-fleetingly suspended inside.

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Almost too understated at times, calm-wizard Jamie Wood’s new show is still a meditative joy