It’s tough to know where to start writing about Dust, a play expertly written and performed by Milly Thomas. The subject matter is macabre; Milly plays Alice, a young woman who has taken her own life and from the vantage point of the afterlife, observes those she’s left behind. On one level, suicide can seem like a topic that has been explored infinite times before. But Dust is no mere tracing of old ground. Thomas has created a play that will hit you hard in the gut and leave you reeling. Death itself is transformed.
Set against three mirrors and a clinical, shiny metal table, suitable for the morgue, Thomas transforms the space into the world of Alice – her friends, family and boyfriend appear and disappear as she adroitly switches between
them. They are so recognisable – her Aunt Isabelle a particular highlight. The eccentricities of each of them make for a beautiful contrast against the deadpan post-death Alice.
Sara Joyce has intelligently directed what might have been a very cliché play, but instead sparkles with heart and soul, and watching Thomas move through time and between characters is a thing of great elegance. A sequence in which three years of Alice’s life pass by in a few moments is a particularly awe-inspiring piece of acting from Thomas. This flawless performance is coupled with witty, sharp writing. The harsh details of human dealings with grief are so deftly sprinkled throughout, they completely topple you whenever they appear.
The weirdness, the sadness, and brutality of dying and how we as humans are left to deal with a death as the living, are stitched into a flawless hour and twenty minutes in Dust. There were few dry eyes left in my viewing; I laughed, cried and left with a new perspective. The show supports the work of the Samaritans and is a stunning tribute to the transformative power of art. This should be compulsory viewing for anyone who has struggled with depression – or who is close to a sufferer of depression. You will leave the theatre changed.
Review by Christina Carè
‘I’ve been dead for three days.’
A woman. A suicide. A choice. A lie. A truth. An ending. Of sorts.
Life, Alice thinks, isn’t worth living. So she kills herself. But she’s stuck. A fly on the wall. Forced to watch the aftermath of her suicide and its ripple effect on her family and friends, Alice quickly learns that death changes people. And discovers that death isn’t the change she hoped for.
Following award-winning, sell-out runs at Edinburgh Fringe 2017 and Soho Theatre, Dust by Milly Thomas (Clique, BBC3; Clickbait and A First World Problem, Theatre503), directed by Sara Joyce (The Scar Test, Soho Theatre; Act Without Words I, Rough For Theatre II, Old Red Lion Theatre; Director with Old Vic 12), transfers to Trafalgar Studios for a limited run until October 13th.
Produced by Deus Ex Machina Productions. In partnership with The Samaritans.
Writer/Performer – Milly Thomas
Director – Sara Joyce
Producer – DEM Productions
Set Designer – Anna Reid
Sound designer – Max Perryment
Lighting designer – Jack Weir
Book Tickets for Trafalgar Studios