Katherine MacAlister finds out what makes a troupe of clowns tick.

It’s impossible to put Paperworld in a box, because they will always burst out.

To give you a rough idea, Paperworld is the name of a new show coming to the Oxford Playhouse involving vast quantities of paper and Ukrainian clown group Mimirichi (Andriy Gonsales, Igor Ivashchenko, Anatoliy Miroshnyk and Yaroslav Zavgorodniy), whose last visit to Oxford was legendary.

This fast-paced, physical, slapstick comedy is like nothing you will have seen before as they tear the house down (literally!) on Sunday.

Established in Ukraine in the mid-80s, Mimirichi’s fame spread throughout the former Soviet Union before they hit Europe and have been on the road since, spreading their own brand of quirky humour around the globe. However, as they turn out to be as nutty as their show, it makes for an interesting article.

So what is it with you and paper, I ask Andriy? “Let’s say the shows are our own theatre of life. But Paperworld comes from short separate numbers from different performances which transform into an entire show.”

In Paperworld, actions and laughter speak louder than words. “We have adapted traditional clowning,” producer Alexander Sparinsky agrees.

But ask where they got together and the clowns take over: “Since we’ve been made at the paper factory, I mean Circus College,” Igor, one of the artists pipes up, before Alex adds: “The group was established in Kiev in the mid 80s after Igor and Andriy finished domestic circus college. Then a little bit later Anatoliy and Yaroslav joined Mimirichi.”

Circus college! But as soon as Mimirichi ventured out of Eastern Europe, they hit gold, as Andriy explains: “Our biggest reception is abroad, and we have worked with stars like Kim Wilde, Gina Lollobrigida and Prince.”

So what’s the winning formula? “Be honest and be fun – as happens in our life. it’s nothing special and there are no secrets. Of course, experience must be added to the list as well! We have struck the right chord at the right time,” Anatoliy says. “But you foreigners are always ready to laugh about yourselves.”

As for the men behind the masks, Yaroslav says: “Sometimes we are happy and sometimes sad – the same as people around us. Comedians are people just as you are!”

Either way, you can watch the magic formula for yourselves when Paperworld comes to Oxford. “Yes we were there about five years ago, just after the Edinburgh Festival where The Guardian nominated us Best Fringe Show. We like Oxford because the audience is young and informal,” Yaroslav says.

When Paperworld is done, there’s an even madder show on the way. “Yes, we are not only reinventing, but even reincarnating. The next one is Plastic Fantastic,” Andriy says.

But for people who haven’t seen Mimirichi before, what can they expect? “A fun paper mess with the clowns in the theatre of life!” they shout in unison. You guys!

* Tickets for Paperworld, this Sunday, at Oxford Playhouse are available on 01865 305305 or online at oxfordplayhouse.