Elastic Fantastic: London International Mime Festival Returns

By Stuart Black Last edited 38 months ago
Elastic Fantastic: London International Mime Festival Returns
Vamos Theatre 'The Best Thing' at Jacksons Lane. Photo by alienpen and Graeme Braidwood.
Ockham's Razor 'Tipping Point' at Platform Theatre. Photo by Nik Mackey.
Alexander Vantournhout 'Aneckxander' at Jacksons Lane. Photo by Bart Grietens.
Figurentheater Tübingen 'Wunderkammer' at Barbican Pit. Photo by Winfried Reinhardt.
David Espinosa 'My Great Work' at Tate Modern. Photo by David Espinosa.
Jozef Houben & Marcello Magni 'Marcel' at Shaw Theatre. Photo by Pascal Victor.
Circa 'Il Ritorno' at Barbican Theatre. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.
Al Seed 'Oog' at Jacksons Lane. Photo by Maria Falconer.
Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois 'He Who Falls' at Barbican Theatre. Photo by Geraldine Aresteanu.

Marcel Marceau once said: "..."

And who can argue with that? Luckily, we don't have to — we just have to be amazed by the astonishingly varied art of expression through movement and gesture on show as the London International Mime Festival returns to the capital this month. The festival sees 112 performances given by 18 companies from all over the world and features all manner of human origami.

Founded in 1977, the festival is known for offering the whole gamut of physical theatre from modern circus to live animation, puppets, masks, comedy with props and drama with imaginary objects. And the venues are similarly diverse, from big stages at the Barbican and Southbank Centre to smaller local theatres and unique repurposed spaces such as Tate Modern.

The latter sees Spaniard David Espinosa creating My Great Work, in which he uses miniature people, animals, cars and helicopters to create table-top versions of the grand stadium shows he envisions in his head. Similarly unbowed by budgetary limitation is Stereoptik from France who create a Dark Circus using little more than paper, charcoal, sand and ink (it’s dark because every story ends in a tragi-comic death). There’s more gruesome comedy in Horror, which sees a deserted mansion become a terrifying dreamscape where very nasty things happen often. Here's the trailer:


On a lighter note, Jos Houben from Belgium returns with his insightful lecture-performance The Art of Laughter, which explains the secrets of what tickles us and why. He's not to be confused with Jozef Houben, who pops up, along with fellow Complicité alumnus Marcello Magni, in their show Marcel, which also looks inwards at the way gags work. Rubber-limbed Kiwi Trygve Wakenshaw is a familiar famous in the capital with two recent sell-out shows at the Soho Theatre. He returns with his Edinburgh Award nominated Nautilus. Meanwhile, Infinita promises “a roller-coaster visual comedy about birth, sex and getting older” all done via the use of masks.


Among the innovative acrobatic troupes worth a look, try Australia’s Circa, which fuses physical feats with live opera and the story of Ulysses. Then there's the award-winning He Who Falls from France featuring six artists trying to keep their balance on a huge tilting platform. New Swedish company Svalbard presents All Genius All Idiot which has fun unpicking the primeval and rational sides of humanity.


Oog comes to Jackson’s Lane and depicts the mind of a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder, poetically exploring the psychological effects of violence. While another Belgian performer Alexander Vantournout strips down so he can work out just who and what he is in Aneckxander.

There’s plenty more to explore at the website with the London International Mime Festival running from 9 January-6 February. The main line-up is complemented by workshops, films and talks.

Last Updated 06 January 2016

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