Written and directed by Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux and Sandrine Heyraud. Performed by Sicire Durieux, Sandrine Heyraud and Christine Heyraud. Puppets created by Waw! Studios/ Joachim Jannin and Jean-Raymond Brassine. Lights Guillaume Toussaint Fromeentin. Sound. Brice Cannavo. Video. Tristan Galand. Costumes Fanny Boizard, Cie Chaliwat and Cie Focus. The Space. Adelaide Festival Centre. Adelaide Festival . February 28-March 1. March 3 – March 7 2020
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
Dimanche is the French word for Sunday, traditionally a day of rest and relaxation from a hard week’s work. There is no such comfort in Cie Chaliwate and Cie Focus’s ominous warning on the disastrous effects of climate change in their ingeniously conceived performance from Belgium. Combining physical theatre, video, performance and puppetry performers Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux and Julie Tenret relate the drama of impending doom from human’s negation of the impact of a changing climate. In a series of skilfully created scenarios Cie Chaliwate and Cie Focus have combined to present a simple but beautifully presented narrative. The opening scene presents an icy landscape on which a television crew arrive to chronicle the effect of climate change on the icecaps. Siuddenly the ice begins to crack and the TV crew are swallowed by the icy waters. Handled by expert puppeters, a large polar bear tenders her cub on a shrinking icecap which cracks in half taking the cub to certain death to the grieving bark of the distraught mother.
In a home, the heat rises and the fans work overtime until the furniture begins to melt and buckle. A long-necked flying goose attempts to feed her young with a diminishing food supply as the effects of rising temperatures and dried up landscapes take their toll on human and animal life alike. Wild and sudden storms erupt as the couple in their suburban home desperately seek to maintain their usual routine as wild winds blast through their home, sending them across the room as they cling to furniture and doggedly attempt to pursue their mealtime ritual. The absurdity of human ignorance in the event of obvious change is couched in the foreboding tone of black humour.
Puppeteers and actors, aided by Bruce Cannavo’s striking sound effects and Tristan Galand’s video sequences maintain the tension and suspense as disaster strikes. Finally, the house is subsumed by a towering tsunami in a black theatre sequence of fish and shark feeding on the floating food as the clock passes by. The man floats through the house and the destruction is complete. A canoeist passes through the debris, seeking vestiges of a past that has been destroyed. The battery in the video runs out and with it the opportunity to restore a way of life lost through ignorance and inaction.
Dimanche is a fable for our time and a warning for the future. Like the clock on the wall floating through the water, time is passing by and the battery is running low, soon to lose all power. Now is the time for the people in the house to act. Using puppetry, performance and black humour, Dimanche from Belgium avoids didactic enforcement and yet through ingenious and imaginative storytelling and moving puppetry and sound and lighting, this powerfully persuasive omen convinces with its unmissable and unmistakably relevant theatrical entertainment. An Adelaide festival highlight!