He Who Falls (Celui Qui Tombe), Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois. Photograph: © Géraldine Aresteanu
He Who Falls (Celui Qui Tombe), performed by Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois. Photograph: © Géraldine Aresteanu

Mime is by definition the ‘quiet man’ of the theatrical arts, but each year the London International Mime Festival sets out to showcase sophisticated and cutting-edge forms of visual theatre that are worth shouting about.

This month world-renowned acts from across the globe will have their sights trained on London, with the Barbican one of the host venues.

Charades this certainly is not. Ball-bearings spin and pendulums swing in Expiry Date, by Belgian company BabaFish (19–23 January), while four performers give an ephemeral retrospective of one man’s life, whose memories are conveyed through an unpredictable mix of acting, juggling, movement and singing.

Monteverdi’s operatic take on the legend of Ulysses, and Primo Levi’s Second World War refugee memoir The Truce, are starting points for The Return (27–31 January), a production by Australian company Circa that explores states of exile, fusing singing and music with the physicality of contemporary circus.

String marionettes, operated by the German puppeteers of Figurentheater Tűbingen, make reference to art, science and nature in Wunderkammer (2–6 February), while in Dark Circus by Stereoptik, two French visual artists bring paper, ink, sand and silhouettes to life, drawing and playing music, with their creations projected onto a large screen (26–30 January).

French artist Yoann Bourgeois has a fascination with weightlessness and suspension. For his production He Who Falls, six performers react with agility when a suspended podium begins to pivot, swing and elevate, with each scenario choreographed to music.

 The London International Mime Festival dates from 1977 and is the longest running event of its type in the world.

 9 January – 6 February 2016
Go to mimelondon.com



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