Trafalgar Studios (venue)
07 September 2018 (released)
10 September 2018
‘Dust’, a one woman show, written and performed by Milly Thomas, crackles with humour and sharp social observation. Not what you might expect from a play that pitches itself as a ‘fragile’ and personal account of one woman’s severe depression.
The bold tone is set in the first few seconds as twenty something, Alice crouches over her own dead body laid on the slab and says, ‘Fuck, I think this is the end’.
But it’s not. Dead to everyone else in her world but very much alive to the audience, she takes some satisfaction from an examination her own corpse, ‘I look like someone’s fit dead wife in a costume drama.’
For the next hour and twenty minutes, Milly Thomas plays Alice in what feels like a manic state, as well as her mother, father, aunt and best friend, as she takes a tour round life after her own death. First she visits her family home where she finds her parents paralysed by grief and her aunt planning a mood board for the funeral. Alice is obsessed with bodies and sex – promiscuity clearly a symptom of her condition as well as a search for pleasure and Thomas’ play is refreshingly bold in this area.
Directed beautifully by Sarah Joyce, Thomas skilfully switches mood or character in an instant, with a performance thrilling in it’s precision. Alice is acerbic, witty and utterly assured of her usually harsh convictions. As she explains, it took years to turn her sadness to anger and now it burns bright. The fuel of her suicide.
The pace and sharp characterisation makes you forget the sadness at the heart of ‘Dust’–until it stops and it hits you that this seemingly irrepressible force of life is actually dead. Thomas writing does not ask you to feel, it’s power lies in the way it distracts you again and again until the lights go down.
Joyce believes they are ‘tapping into something unspoken because people don’t know how to articulate it.’ The truth is ‘Dust’ will give you no answers to the question of what it is that drives some people with so much ahead, to commit suicide. However it does paint a vivid and raw picture of an individual in a state of controlling rage and isolation as well as the devastation that the loss of a young life leaves in it’s wake.