EIF 2023: Dimanche, Church Hill Theatre, Review

Dimanche - Credit Virginie Meigné
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Focus Company / Chaliwaté Company
Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux and Sandrine Heyraud (writers / directors), Alana Osbourne (dramaturg), Guillaume Toussaint Fromentin (lighting designer), Brice Cannavo (sound designer), Zoé Tenret (scenographer).
Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux and Sandrine Heyraud. Joachim Jannin and Jean-Raymond Brassinne (puppeteers for Waw! Studios).
Running time

This is the promised development of the short 2018 Fringe show “Backup” to look at how people absurdly keep up normal life in the face of climate chaos.

It starts with a reprise of the earlier piece as an intrepid film crew documents polar bears on a melting ice flow.  Their news is reported in the home of a family who are preparing for a regular Sunday evening, or would be if it were not for heat so searing that even power sapping fans can prevent the furniture from becoming malleable.

The dedicated, if slightly inept, cinematographers meanwhile face hurricane and tsunami, each mirrored at home as the couple can’t help but be blown away by a cataclysmic romantic dinner and find themselves inundated.  Not even being underwater can awake the sleeping husband to danger as he bats away a bobbing alarm clock.  A final scene is filmed showing a possible near future as the battery runs out.

This highly visual dive into a broken and climatic world is both lifelike and dreamlike, comic and tragic. Meticulously made it has a distinctive visual language playing with contrasting scale while combining puppetry and classic physical clowning of the silent movie era.  The magic of miniature landscapes is achieved by the actors folding themselves to become features, sinking down to become hills or a sandy atoll while the puppets feel substantial and real.  Set changes and effects are seamless.

The addition of greater scale and more physical mine enhances the enchanting effect of the previous work.  Only in the underwater sequence are things a little unclear and the pace lags.

If the message felt current five years ago it now feels both prescient and beyond its time.


Show Times: 15 – 19 August 2023 at 7pm.  (18th audio described.  Touch tour available before performance).

Tickets: From £25.

Suitability: 9+ (contains use of haze).