How do you summarise a whole life? Is it in the knick knacks and curios we collect? Do the objects we surround ourselves with truly represent who we are inside? And even if you love barware, does one man really need enough martini glasses to serve an entire prohibition bar?
A frenetic and charismatic presence
This autobiographically inspired story told by Mr Dennis (Dennis Elkins) explores what it means to grieve our loved ones, deal with the possessions they leave behind, and delve into ways we can discover our own identity.
Elkins has a wonderful way with words: despite never having been to South Kansas, I could vividly picture his parents’ old home, based on his descriptions, filled with the accoutrements built up over 44 years of his parents’ marriage. Many will relate to his recounting of the desperate process of dismantling the collections of a lifetime, sentimental paraphernalia with little to no value to anyone outside of direct relatives.
Placed in centre stage is the humble corrugated cardboard box. It’s clear that this much overlooked object is actually often our most loyal sidekick, following us throughout our lives and perhaps to our death. Most poignantly, Mr Dennis describes receiving his son’s ashes in a cardboard box, but he also uses his cardboard prop alternatively as a child’s toy, a hiding place, and the representation of the baggage grief brings: both physical and metaphorical.
At times childlike and playful, and at others dignified and stately, Elkins is always a frenetic and charismatic presence on stage. Despite the often sombre themes addressed, his high energy and good nature ensures that it remains lighthearted, with plenty to chuckle at.
A Trilogy: box is one of a three related works from Dennis Elkins playing here at Edinburgh Fringe – although there’s no set order to watch them in, and each works as a standalone piece. This piece is defined by profound ruminations that are buoyed by an optimistic outlook. You’ll leave considering a new perspective on what you really value, and whether it’s the kind thing that’ll go in a cardboard box at all.