At a time when West End theatre is leaning heavily on populist, big buck shows, SPILL Festival flies a welcome flag for radical and experimental performance work designed to provoke and agitate as well as entertain.
Taking the notion of contact as its theme, the programme is madly intriguing — how to choose what to do? Will you participate in an 19th-century Parisian salon, witness a nine hour corpse washing, hear dead people talk in the darkness, go on a one-to-one walk experience around town, watch performative experiments in a laboratory installation, immerse yourself in Entertainment Island for three hours, eat part of a cake dress, see an aerialiste in outer space, or watch a live webcast of a 24 hour quiz-off?
Throughout, SPILL's "Thinker in Residence" Tim Etchells of Forced Entertainment will respond to the festival in correspondence with people (which the public can access), and Think Tank events bring artists and cultural workers together to moan, share and work out how to survive in austerity.
SPILL's artists deal in age old questions such as identity, communication, truth and human nature, but subvert expectations in radical and uncompromising ways. These performances won't always make for comfortable watching — don't be surprised by confrontation, nudity, peculiarity or bizarre behaviour — but world-class artists of any ilk will always make you think. If you want more than just a good night out at a show, book now and prepare to be challenged.
Want to find out more? Read Run Riot's interview with SPILL's Artistic Director and Curator Robert Pacitti.
SPILL Festival events take place at Barbican, Soho Theatre, Toynbee Studios, the National Theatre Studio and Whitechapel Gallery from 3-14 April. For more information and to book tickets (including tickets that give you entry to multiple events) visit spillfestival.com.