What defines a life? At the end of our days what do we leave behind? What happens to those possessions when we die?
Fifteen years ago Chris Dugrenier arrived in the UK. Now in her new one woman show Wealth’s Last Caprice, reflecting on composing her last Will and Testament, she decides to identify her belongings.
Rather than some random collation, she spends three whole weeks cataloguing every single item she owns. The findings are surprising; over those 15 years she has amassed over 2100 possessions, from books to music and exercise equipment. She calculates she has spent over £15,000 on the items, giving each an average value of £7.64.
The whole process of examining what we leave behind turns out to be a deeply intimate look, not only of death, but at life itself, the emotional journeys we take and the connections we make with the most mundane of items.
Treating the audience as witnesses, in more ways than one, to the reasoning behind her will and testament, Dugrenier creates a deeply personal and engaging insight into her life. Seated in close proximity, at times it becomes uncomfortably voyeuristic as we see the everyday and mundane flotsam and jetsam of possession accumulate before our eyes. Using a mix of frank monologue, movement and video she allows us insight into the normally hidden and personal.
This is the World Premiere performance of Wealth’s Last Caprice and although a polished showing, is still a work in progress. Some thought on the configuration between performer and audience (currently seated on plastic chairs on the stage) would pay dividends as would some slight trimming to reduce the current hour running time. Overall, though, it’s an accomplished early showing that delivers much. Several moments stick in the mind; the dedication to the love and support of Dugrenier’s husband is both heartfelt and moving as is the beautifully described wished for her ashes to be scattered towards France from the white cliffs of Dover mixed with Forget-Me-Nots.
A show looking at Wills and disposing of possessions after death could so easily turn into a morbid affair but Wealth’s Last Caprice surprisingly turns out to be a poignant but uplifting celebration of life itself.