Sick! festival review – a funny, heartfelt poke at the biggest taboos

Sick! festival review – a funny, heartfelt poke at the biggest taboos

The title of Candoco Dance Company’s show, Let’s Talk About Dis, might as well be the strapline for Manchester’s Sick! festival. The three-week series of events themed around mental and physical health frames itself as a public conversation. It’s an opportunity, through art, to talk about illness, disability and death – things that usually languish in agonised or embarrassed silence.

Candoco want to talk about what it is to be a company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. What does it mean when we’re invited to look at this range of different bodies on stage, and how can we discuss that? Made with Hetain Patel in 2014 and reiterated with different groups of dancers, Let’s Talk About Dis plays humorously with candour, awkwardness and polite concealment. In a short series of sketches, the show scratches away at assumptions and identity, while the performers confound typical expectations of what dancing bodies can or should do. A wheelchair gracefully spins, pivots and tilts; a pair of crutches become surprisingly agile extra limbs.

In An Irresponsible Father’s Guide to Parenting, comedian Laurence Clark addresses the neglected subject of disability and parenting. Before he become a parent, Clark never saw dads with cerebral palsy. His show fills that gap in representation, confronting perceptions of what fatherhood looks like. Taking on the offensive comments left under YouTube videos of a BBC documentary he and his family appeared in, he wittily prods at society’s ideas of responsibility and irresponsibility. If not quite revelatory, it’s a warm and funny hour of assumption smashing, complete with hilarious video appearances from Clark’s two no-nonsense sons….Read more>>