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London International Mime Festival announces 2020 programme

Ockham's Razor are among the performing companies at the 44th annual event

This Time by Ockham's Razor
© Ockham's Razor

The 2020 London International Mime Festival celebrates its 44th year as the capital's annual festival of contemporary visual theatre.

From 8 January to 2 February, ten overseas companies join eight British groups to stage new and returning work at venues including Shoreditch Town Hall, Jacksons Lane, Sadler's Wells, Soho Theatre, the Barbican Centre, the Peacock Theatre, the Southbank Centre and new festival venue Wilton's Music Hall.

In addition, four productions have been specifically commissioned by the festival itself. Ockham's Razor will present This Time, dance duo Thick and Tight bring Romancing the Apocalypse, full mask theatre company Vamos Theatre perform Dead Good and The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel will be staged by Told by an Idiot.

Ockham's Razor's open the festival at Shoreditch Town Hall with This Time, a show first seen at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. With a cast ranging in age from 13 to 60, and performed with unique aerial equipment specially created for the piece, This Time explores time and transformation and family relationships. The show plays from 8 to 15 January.

Following their success at the 2019 festival, Thick and Tight's Daniel Hay-Gordon and Eleanor Perry return to Sadler's Wells' Lilian Baylis Studio from 9 to 11 January with the London premiere of Romancing the Apocalypse, a programme of brand-new works that combine dance, mime, queer culture and outsider art. The show features apparitions of contemporary history characters including Marcel Proust, Winston Churchill, Marlene Dietrich and Andy Warhol. Thick and Tight are joined by artists from Corali Dance Company – leaders in dance by artists with a learning disability – and soloists Harry Alexander, Vidya Patel and Edd Arnold. Romancing the Apocalypse has design by Tim Spooner.

Vamos Theatre's Dead Good plays at Jacksons Lane from 30 January to 2 February. The full mask-company tell the story of Bob and Bernard, who decide to hit the road for one final adventure before the inevitable end. The show was created in collaboration with palliative care patients and specialists.

The final festival commission, The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel will play at Wilton's Music Hall from 14 to 18 January. Told by an Idiot tell a fictional story of the unknown Chaplin and Laurel travelling in 1910 to New York, then touring North American as part of Fred Karno's famous music hall troupe. The show contains an original piano score composed by Mercury Award nominee Zoe Rahman.

At the Peacock Theatre, French company Galactik Ensemble present the UK premiere of Optraken, a physical theatre piece in which five acrobats – graduates from France's national circus school – perform on unstable ground around collapsing ceilings and walls.

At the Soho Theatre, Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Trygve Wakenshaw brings the UK premiere of Only Bones v1.4, a challenge to create micro-physical comedy productions originally set by fellow New Zealander Thomas Monckton in Only Bones (v1.0).

The Southbank Centre showcases a variety of work, including BOYS by The PappyShow, an unscripted celebration of male tenderness, vulnerability and community performed by a cast of young men. BOYS was the winner of the Origins Outstanding Work Award at London's VAULT Festival. Also present at this south-of-the-river venue are dance-circus company Joli Vyann – directed by Olivia Quayle and Jan Patzke, they bring their third show Anima and examine the simple yet constant act of breathing in conjunction with a live Taiko drummer. Juggler Wes Peden – last in London with Gandini in Juggling's Spring at Sadler's Wells – also returns with a new solo show, Zebra.

Other festival highlights include new work by Belgium's dance-theatre company Peeping Tom and movie/ theatre/ dance ensemble Kiss & Cry Collective, a UK premiere of 3D by French performer Compagnie HMG and puppetry from the likes of La Pendue, Opposable Thumb and String Theatre.

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