Kicking off the schedule at the South Bank's Purcell Room, Belgian company Okidok make their London debut with Ha Ha Ha (11 to 14 January), a circus act of Russian tradition; and the juggling show described as "Stomp with balls", I.J.K. (23 to 26 January), is performed by France's Compagnie 111. Also featuring at this venue is physical theatre piece Nouvelles Folies (16 to 19 January) by French company Fiat Lux, returning from its sell-out run at the 2001 Mime Festival; and the UK-born Company F/Z's Throat (20 to 22 January), a hybrid of circus, cabaret and performance art, directed by Total Theatre Award 2002 winner Flick Ferdinando and choreographed by John Paul Zaccarini.
From 13 to 22 January, the Barbican plays host to French company Compagnie Jerome Thomas's Juggling Hands, a display of sleight of hand and object manipulation with live accordion accompaniment.
At the South Bank's Queen Elizabeth Hall is Fili by Belgian theatrical circus company Circus Ronaldo (17 to 19 January), promising larger than life characters, masks and melodrama with an edge of surrealism alluding to that of a Fellini film; and 20 January sees a one-off double bill from the UK's Spymonkey, whose physical comedy pieces Stiff and Cooped spin tales of mock tragedy and schlock-horror.
A number of home-grown companies play at the BAC (Battersea Arts Centre) from 17 January, including La Petite Mort (21 to 23 January), Company Collisions' dark interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, Absence and Presence (23 to 25 January), a visual narrative about guilt and family ties by Andrew Dawson and BAC-produced Scratch performances from Ralffralff and Jade.
Other highlights of the festival include: Light! by Belgium's Mossoux Bonte (20 to 22 January), whose award-winning Twin Houses appeared at the festival several years ago, and X-rated puppetry in Vampyria from Spanish Company Teatro Corsario (16 to 19 January), both at the ICA; and acclaimed Swiss ensemble Metzger/Zimmermann/dePerrot's cult dance, circus and live music show Gopf (10 to 12 January) at Euston's The Place. The festival will also visit the Pleasance London, The Soho Theatre and the Croydon Clock Tower.
- by Peggy Nuttall