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.

Things to do right now

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Festivals 8–17 December 2017, FREE

Lightwaves 2017 at The Quays

Cinema 8–18 December 2017, from £5.00

A Tim Burton Trio at HOME

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Cinema 8–18 December 2017, from £5.00

A Tim Burton Trio at HOME

Theatre 20 September–20 December 2017,

Contact Autumn Season 2017

Families 13–20 December 2017, from £5.00

The Siege of Christmas at Contact

Blade of the Immortal
Cinema 8–20 December 2017, from £5.00

Blade of the Immortal at HOME

Cinema 9–23 December 2017, from £5.00

It’s A Wonderful Life at HOME

Theatre 12–23 December 2017, from £10.00

Hot Brown Honey at HOME

Cinema 11–23 December 2017, from £5.00

Meet Me in St. Louis at HOME

Exhibitions 17 November–23 December 2017, FREE

And Then There Was

Theatre 7–30 December 2017, from £6.50

Red Riding Hood and The Wolf at HOME

Families 13–31 December 2017, from £5.00 Under 13s

How To Hide a Lion at the Royal Exchange

Exhibitions 23 June 2017–1 January 2018, from £4.00

Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War at IWM North