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Pss Pss

Now in its 35th year, the London International Mime Festival of contemporary visual theatre always generates a sense of anticipation about what intriguing productions the ever-questing directors Joseph Seelig and Helen Lannaghan will have unearthed. With the Baccala Clowns’ Pss Pss they have found gold.

On an empty stage with the bare minimum of props – a toy suitcase, a ladder and some fruit – Camilla Pessi and Simone Fassari use their wildly expressive faces and bodies to tell their tale of a slightly competitive couple, who only verbalise the title’s pss pss noise and an occasional sigh. They wear quirky outfits; she in brightly coloured layers including pantaloons and red leather bootees, and he in chalk-stripe trews, braces and checkered socks. They both sport strange little hats. Directed by circus-theatre specialist Louis Spagna, their show is packed with ideas and ingenuity. It is deceptively simple. This outstandingly funny duo, who trained with the famous Swiss clown Dimitri at his school in Switzerland, take their gentle art to a place unfunny clowns must long for.

As if that weren’t enough, they also play the trumpet and accordion, and display exceptional circus skills in a superbly clever acrobatic hand to hand routine and again on static trapeze, where they almost come to blows. There is silly slapstick and audience participation with a darker edge – watch your heads. Constantly in demand all round the world, London is oh so lucky that Pessi and Fassari have had time to grace it with their presence.

Liz Arratoon

16th January 2012