London International Mime Festival. Various venues, London

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The Independent Culture

The London International Mime Festival, now in its 28th year, opens at the South Bank's Queen Elizabeth Hall with the French outfit Compagnie 111 presenting the final part of its trilogy "exploring spacial concepts", More or Less Infinity. Circus Ronaldo, from Belgium will present the UK premiere of La Cucina dell Arte, about a power struggle in the kitchen, at the Barbican Pit. The aerialist Matilda Leyser will be swinging at the ROH's Linbury Studio, while the puppeteer Stephen Mottram stages his macabre animation theatre for adults at Battersea Arts Centre.

Claire Heggen's autobiographical piece, Life Is What You Make It, performed at the South Bank Centre's Purcell Room, is one of the few piece in the festival in which the spoken word plays a major role. It is about life as a mime performer and includes live and filmed clips from shows performed by Theatre du Movement, which Heggen co-founded.

Andrew Dawson will perform Absence and Presence at the ICA, in which he reflects on his father, whose body lay undiscovered for 10 days after his death and who is represented by a wire-mesh figure. It uses sculpture, video, music and the text of one of his father's letters to explore the relationship between a son and father.

"The word mime can cause people to sigh," says Dawson. "Yet I find that that this genre of visual theatre triggers emotions better sometimes than words. It is like looking at a fantastic painting. It resonates physically in you."

Absence and Presence has been garlanded with awards and Dawson has been an on-off performer at the festival since he staged Thunderbirds FAB in 1984, "a spoof of the TV show". The latest piece has been more cathartic.

"I needed to make a piece about my father. It was a formal relationship and he was a depressive character. It was not until after he had died that I realised how much love he had for me."

11 to 29 January ( www.mimefest.co.uk)

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