EIF: Dimanche @ Church Hill Theatre

Belgian theatre companies Focus and Chaliwaté join forces to demonstrate the devastating effects of the climate crisis through mime, puppetry and propwork

Review by Josephine Balfour-Oatts | 18 Aug 2023
  • Dimanche

Dimanche combines the artistic sensibilities and respective skill sets of Belgian companies Focus and Chaliwaté as they meditate together on the future of our planet. The action unfolds across a series of Sundays – symbolically a day of rest and togetherness – blending puppetry, miniature objects, and gesture to create an ecosystem of scenes that moves cleverly between the micro and the macro, the internal and the external, and the personal and the public. 

No detail is too small – Dimanche is staged with great tenderness and physical skill. The devastating effects caused by the rapidly-changing climate in the world of the play (an impending version of the world as we know it now) are captured by an indefatigable camera crew. Through their camera feed, the audience sees what they see, and is transported to places that the crew cannot hope to come back from.

The production brings events that are often imagined to be happening elsewhere into the domestic sphere. Once-reliable technologies and household objects succumb to a massive heatwave, and eventually, the systems that the characters live by are made strange, as the weather begins to turn humans out of their homes before turning their homes inside-out. 

That said, there is a curious lack of urgency or sense of emergency in Dimanche. In one section, a family attempts to persevere with their day-to-day routines, scorning the storm that has knocked down their door – there is both horror and humour to be had in their complacency. Dimanche’s tragic-comic approach accounts for much of its charm – and its power. 

Dimanche observes the natural landscape beautifully, but it does not comment upon the political landscape of tomorrow. It does not highlight current governmental policies, nor suggest or enact policy changes, which seems something of a missed opportunity. So, while this production gestures towards our shared future with ingenuity and nuance, it also risks performing a kind of apocalypse that its audiences will already know.

Dimanche, Church Hill Theatre, until 19 Aug, 7pm, from £25