Not only was the Australian premiere tonight of Dimanche delayed by several hours due to having to await the arrival of freight but what is less known is that this was the first actual public performance by one of the three onstage in-view performers (and a major role change for an existing performer) after a previous lead had to withdraw from the production for medical reasons. Regardless, this performance succeeded without any apparent issue.
Commencing with a motionless cast member that you come to realise is part of the landscape, the initial scenes of inventive puppetry and model play leading into an amusing bumpy campervan ride appropriately soundtracked by Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover are endearing and immediately pull you into a world of wonder. The performers’ roles vary from the characters that they are playing to even becoming part of the sets at times throughout the performance. The impressive set design is arranged and changed at times in complete darkness by the performers ably aided by their behind the scenes colleagues to collectively create scenes and settings that will amaze and surprise with technical achievement for the duration of the performance.
Following an endearing and ultimately moving scene of mother polar bear and cub that cement the themes of ecology and climate change, the early setting of the freezing cold North Pole then gives way to an inner home scene of operatic domesticity and imaginative melting furniture in the second act that will have you wondering how they did it and I am frequently reminded of the films of Michel Gondry.
Although this is a Belgium production from a primarily French-speaking cast, the limited dialogue spoken is in Bulgarian the reason being that the timely message conveyed is one simply carried by the overall performance.
Dimanche is as equally amusing as it is heart-warming and heartbreaking. It is about camaraderie and family and the effects of climate change in a way that is not so forceful and preachy as to alienate audiences. It is without a doubt in my mind one of the most entertaining performances you will see this Adelaide Festival.
Adelaide Festival Review By Jason Leigh
Tickets and show information available from the Adelaide Festival.