Five Easy Pieces © Phile Deprez

SICK! Festival

Andrew Anderson, Theatre Editor

SICK! Festival makes just the kind of art we like: challenging, entertaining and always aimed at changing the world for the better. The 2017 edition looks at life, death and survival, with artworks, stories and performances that question the way the world works.

The whole programme is promising, but a few pieces jump out…or should we say float up in the case of Happy Cloud, which will see the city’s skies filled with smiling shapes. An outdoors installation work from Stuart Semple, it makes you ask yourself one of life’s most important questions: am I happy?

On the stage side of things we’ve got two great shows that deal with exploitation. The Game examines prostitution, but switches the perspective so that men – the consumers – are under the microscope. Meanwhile Michael Essien I Want to Play as You looks behind the scenes of the multi-million pound football industry and finds some unpleasant facts. There’s also a lecture from Thomas DeFrantz I Am Black.

If all that sounds a bit too, well, conventional, then how about Hetain Patel disguised as a white man in American Man, or Milo Rau making children re-enact a murder and the subsequent police investigation in Five Easy Pieces. Both shows have strange concepts and challenge our ideas of normality ­– something we all need to do every now and then.

Things to do right now

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Dance 19–20 October 2017, from £12

Andante at The Lowry

Theatre 18–21 October 2017, from £15.50

Under Glass at The Lowry

Exhibitions 7 July–22 October 2017, FREE

From Ocean to Horizon at CFCCA

Music 19–22 October 2017, from £6.00

Manchester Folk Festival 2017

Festivals 19–29 October 2017,

Manchester Science Festival 2017

Dance 14 September–1 November 2017,

The Lowry Autumn Season 2017

Exhibitions 24 June–1 November 2017, FREE

Raqib Shaw at the Whitworth

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AND A 123 at Castlefield Gallery

Families 19 October–5 November 2017, from £6

Big Imaginations Festival