Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux and Sandrine Heyraud
Focus and Chaliwaté
Church Hill Theatre

Dimanche Credit: Alice Piemme

The light slapstick climate comedy Dimanche is visually striking with its mix of silly sight gags and occasional puppets. If this was a black-and-white film, we might think we were watching a silent Hollywood movie from the 1920s.

It shifts between two simple stories. In one, journalists chase a story. In the other, a family go about their daily domestic tasks.

The show opens with a television crew trying to film some climate changes, first in the arctic wastes, and later near the sea. When you see them react to a cracking glacier, you can guess the direction their story will go.

As they hear the cracks, two of them climb on top of the third, guaranteeing that’s where the ice will break. Illogical of course, but it gets a laugh, even though it causes the unlucky third one to die.

The surviving two journalists have two subsequent ridiculous fatal encounters with nature that get reasonable laughs.

In a brief sentimental scene, a polar bear puzzles over a bit of their equipment lying around on the ice, while a bit of their glacier carries off a baby polar bear crying. That didn’t get a laugh.

The homestead family are very hot. A youngish man stripped to his shorts tries to keep cool as he cleans up. Meanwhile, a puppet playing an older woman tries to use her stairlift with its usual predictable jokes.

When she gets down to the living room, the younger man tries to keep her cool by putting her feet in a bowl of ice. But with all that electric equipment around her, you can guess what will happen.

Finally, the younger man and woman light a candle to her memory and cook a bird that flies through the window, but the draught from the broken window turns into a bit of a hurricane that blows them up into the air. I expect that spoiled their appetite.

Somehow, the candle to the departed gran is immune from the raging wind.

The company has an impressive visual flair, a good eye for silly sight gags, but a politically poor taste in storytelling, though it might appeal to some of the British tabloid press.

This is the year that fires have raged across Europe, and they are still counting the bodies of those caused by the fires in Hawaii.

In 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees pointed out that 21.5 million people have been displaced by climate change-related disasters since 2010. But never mind, they can go to Rwanda.

Of course, we need fun and humour in dark times. There is a one-hundred-and-twelve-page list of comedians in the Edinburgh Fringe guide alone to keep us laughing. I suspect none of them include sight gags about the 72 people who died in the Grenfell fire.

Surely we should also be careful about trivialising the deaths of those killed by climate change. That might mean we don’t parade a show like Dimanche at the much-subsidised Edinburgh International Festival.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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