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Dimanche – Edinburgh International Festival | Review

The characters in this show aren’t British. This is easily discerned by them not talking about the weather. Mind you, they don’t talk about much at all, and what little dialogue exists is indecipherable, not so much because it’s in a different language and isn’t translated, but because a television crew is attempting an outside broadcast but inclement weather in the form of wind and snow is drowning out whatever the reporter is saying. Their documentary work is staged magnificently – there’s no need for commentary from Sir David Attenborough or any other knowledgeable broadcaster on the subject of polar bears and other wildlife. It’s evident what happens, and it makes for harrowing viewing, achieved largely by puppetry.

Dimanche, Edinburgh International Festival. © Virginie Meigné.
Dimanche, Edinburgh International Festival. © Virginie Meigné.

When the television crew are in their 4×4, a toy-size vehicle makes its way through a model of the treacherous terrain, though this is as elaborate as a life-size polar bear on stage. The stagecraft is phenomenal both in the main story and in the subplot. In the subplot, a working-age couple has an elderly relative living with them. The older lady is also portrayed by a puppet, which works well, at least partly because the puppet adopts (more or less) realistic movements. The puppetry also puts the audience at ease when the matriarch is in physical danger, which happens more than once in a darkly comical scene in which global warming has indeed become global boiling, so much so that even the household furniture bends out of shape.

There’s also more than a glimpse of what happens in winter in the supposed comfort of home – achieving the look and feel of a substantial draft blowing through the house was highly convincing. Some of the scenes, however, drag on a bit (despite a one-act, seventy-five-minute running time), and such is the show’s commitment to not being preachy about the issues being raised that there is nothing suggested as to how the catastrophic scenarios portrayed could be mitigated. In the end, credit is due to this production for presenting pressing environmental matters in such an engaging and entertaining manner.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Two award-winning Belgian mime and puppetry companies come together for this stunning visual performance combining puppetry, video, mime and clowning.

Sometime in the near future, it is the end of the world as we know it. In their small city home, a family is about to spend their Sunday together, but the walls are shaking, strong winds and torrential rain rage outside and the storm has only just begun. Amidst this climatic chaos, the protagonists absurdly attempt to maintain a normal family life.

Meanwhile, somewhere else on the planet, three travelling wildlife reporters are doing their best to document the apocalypse. They film, with what little equipment they have, three wild animals on the brink of extinction.


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