Who would have thought it, but hey look! The London International Mime Festival is back - for the 29th time. Mime is perhaps the wrong word for what looks like a very experimental festival - there is a distinct lack of white painted faces, gloves and gurning faces pretending to be trapped behind invisible glass doors. It seems to be more about theatre without words which means anything from puppets to trapezes to naked fire-eating in this case; go along if you like your shows to have as little talking but as much action as possible.
Running for two very crowded weeks with shows in the ICA, the Barbican, the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House and the South Bank Centre, expect equal amounts of chin-stroking and laughing out loud as international artists pour in to do their stuff. Among the international acts are Josef Houben brings his experience as a Complicité actor to his solo show The Art Of Laughter, illustrating what makes audiences laugh, there's Swiss surrealist detective story Memoire de la Nuit (pictured) inspired by Magritte from Philipp Boë and a show that promises trampolining, nudity, aerial work and physical insanity from French performer Mathurin Bolze and his company. He used to perform with radical French circus troupe Archaos so let's just say it won't be boring.
Among the home team, Steven Whinnery presents Lying With The Animals a mask-theatre piece inspired by Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoons which we very much like the sound of (though it's mime, so perhaps there'll be no sound...) and aerialists Ockham’s Razor will have their world premiere of new piece Arc.
Not all the work in the festival is pure mime; some pieces have spoken word or singing and some stray into puppetry and dance. Mime, going by what this festival has to offer and judging by what the performers are capable of doing, is extremely flexible.
London International Mime Festival, 13-29 January, at various venues. For full programme and booking information, go to the festival website here.