With our glamorous compères (correctly spelt unlike in the program!) Barbara Lemon and Joyce Lime (aka Liam Tobin and Jamie Greer) keeping the night rolling on, we were entertained, surprised and challenged by tonight’s selection from the Physical Fest at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

I felt the overall tone of the showcase was quite adult and, at times a little bit too crude, with some shows still “works in progress”. However, there were still some stand out performances and a wide variety of physical theatre, demonstrating the diversity of this style.

The evening ended with my biggest highlight, Sean Kempton, with the show ‘Stuff’. It was a 20 minutes extract from a 60 minute piece that will hitting the Edinburgh Festival this summer. It dealt with the Stuff of life, gaining insights from his 6 year old daughter and an 83 year old lady. Sean had great rapport with the audience with a playful, wide-eyed delivery and great interactions. There were hints of something poignant and touching, I hope these will be explored in the full show. The finale was heartwarming, funny and risky - involving the audience is always a risk. I loved it and hope to see more in Edinburgh.

Another highlight was the opening act, Joanne Tremarco. Joanne was on stage as the audience took their seats, breathing, building curiosity. She brought us ‘Death Wife’, an exploration of the death of her mother from a terminal illness and a consideration of the afterlife. Joanne played both herself and her mother with great characterisation, and a great use of light and shade. It was full of humour and beauty too.

My final highlight was short and sweet, a masterclass of modern clowning, from the wonderful Hilary Chaplain as the ‘Classically Trained Artistes’.

Then we come to the incredibly quirky and facially expressive Mary Pearson, bringing us FoMO, mofos! (Fear of Missing Out, mother f****ers!) It was a mixture of song, poetry and interactions with soundtracks. For me, some parts worked incredibly well but other sections didn’t, possibly requiring an edit or a change in pace.

The remaining acts: Emma Jayne Park, with Conflux, and Irreverent Sideshows, with Reservoir Ducks; didn’t hit the mark for me. For me they didn’t sit well with the other performances of the night. In many ways they were too crude and rude, in short, all I can say is what the duck!

A mixed offering tonight but the majority of them have been good. This is the first year I have been aware of Physical Fest and I have had the pleasure of seeing some outstanding performers give fantastic performances. I recommend you check out the remaining acts this year and look out for Physical Fest 2017, I know I will!

Reviewer: Alan Harbottle

Reviewed: 25th May 2016

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