The closed trunk planted on stage instantly recalls the story of
A hilarious, sad and pensive meditation on loneliness and remembrance.
Dickins vividly enacts characters from the story with sympathy and wry amusement. His style of performance is that of a dad performing a picture book to a child, a sweet and innocent approach to bringing characters and their quirks to life. Meanwhile, a slideshow of photographs lends the play a documentary feel, sharpening its emotional sting.
The real poignancy of this show is that it is intimately personal at the same time as being hugely identifiable. The combing over of a woman’s story, the reading out of love letters and description of her clothes feels almost invasive, so keenly does it probe the anatomy of a single life. Yet eavesdropping on fellow audience members after the show revealed a general recollection of grandparents and family histories, proving that its gentle glances at dementia, ageing, loneliness and loss are universally touching. The woman next to me, who’d spent the entire show laughing gustily, ended it sobbing.
The play occasionally veers towards the saccharine, and there are moments that are over-consciously dramatised to the extent that they feel a little false. However, Dickins’ earnestness and humour just about pull it together and make this a hilarious, sad and pensive meditation on loneliness and remembrance.