The pleasure of stumbling across new experiences

... But the main discovery of the month so far is altogether more joyous: a bunch of Ukrainian paper-tearing clowns: Around 1990, Italian "origami impressionist" Ennio Marchetto was the hit of the Fringe, performing a series of mime impersonations while wearing amazingly intricate costumes he had constructed out of cardboard. Marchetto returns this weekend for the first time in several years, but he may find his thunder already stolen by the Mim-I-Richi company and their show Paper World.

Not that their show is as painstakingly designed ... dear me, no. They simply tear loads of plain paper up and play with it. And I mean loads: possibly around an acre of the stuff per show.

You walk into the theatre, see a huge paper backdrop and think, "Ah, that'll be the climax of the show." Not a bit of it: it's already in shreds after half an hour, and the fun keeps coming.

Mim-I-Richi's discovery is a simple one: tear paper, crumple it up, and you can pretend it's just about anything: a football, a baby, a maneating monster, whatever. It's the same sort of aesthetic which has informed many of designer Julian Crouch's projects in the UK with Improbable Theatre, but more endearingly ramshackle.

Also like Improbable, Mim-I-Richi relishes the spontaneous and unexpected; it's that shared delight in the moment which is at the heart of the best clowning. The players go to great lengths to involve the audience in their show, and are happy to take ideas and run with them, even when the "idea" is an uncontrollable little boy in the front row who won't stop flinging balls of paper back at them.

For this isn't enforced audience participation of the "let's pretend we're having fun" kind. The four performers manage to get hundreds of people in the Pod Deco's main space all pratting about gleefully like kids in a playground; they create an atmosphere of free play that is intensely liberating, and make sure that every single person in the house is carried along. All that without a single word of dialogue. People by the hundred are discovering Mim-I-Richi up here, but that doesn't make the joy of serendipity any less when you find them yourself.

Ian Shuttleworth