Five Easy Pieces © Phile Deprez

SICK! Festival

Andrew Anderson

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.