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The physical and visual adventures of Theatre de Complicite helped release the British stage from its text addiction. So why is the company now reviving old experiments?

In 1984, a little-known company called Theatre de Complicite went on tour with A Minute Too Late, an anarchic comedy devised around the subject of death. The company’s style – inspired by the teaching of clown gurus Jacques Lecoq and Philippe Gaulier – rebelled against the text-dominated boundaries of the British stage with an exuberant physicality. At that point there was little sign that English-speaking theatre was dissatisfied with its thriving literary tradition: only the year before, new works by David Hare (A Map of the World), Christopher Hampton (Tales from Hollywood), and David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) had premiered…

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