Soho Theatre, London – until 17 March 2018
Well, I managed to limit myself to crying (quietly) just the twice while watching Dust, which was amazing considering the performance I witnessed. Milly Thomas is a force to be reckoned with. As a writer/performer she holds the attention of the audience throughout the full 70 minutes.
I was a little concerned in the beginning – could I keep up with the pace and decipher the meaning of the narrative quickly enough to appreciate it? – but the delivery became steadier and easier to follow as the play progressed and I was engrossed.
This is a tragic story of a young woman, Alice, who commits suicide and is then forced to witness the aftermath. There is a certain irony to the situation she finds herself in, as she was looking for an end to her anguish, and she certainly does not get that.
Alice finds herself stuck between worlds, ending up in a painful and harrowing position, one that she was trying so hard to leave. She sees her family and friends through different eyes, unable to either console them or to communicate with them, and unable to “go back – I need to go back”.
I particularly identified with the mother whose first comment was something like “we should’ve been Facebook friends!!”. I know that one. The need to try and fix things is ingrained in our souls as mothers and, at some point, we have to realise we cannot fix everything for our children. One message from this play, however, is that we should never stop trying, or listening, or offering to listen.
Despite the horrific subject matter, this is really very funny throughout, with some clever writing and faultless comic timing in places. This helps to balance the almost-tangible seam of sadness that runs relentlessly through the piece.
As I tipped out into Soho after the play, I thought about the concept that knowing someone is trying to hug you is somehow more important than the hug itself, and made a note to message to my precious but far-away sisters and Mum as soon as possible.
The story is heartbreaking and funny in equal measures and I found it extremely moving and thought-provoking. I would actually like to see it again, or perhaps read it, as I am sure I missed some real gems in the narrative. Painful as this is to watch, it needs to be seen, and we need to take note of the devastation even a single death can cause, and take action wherever we can.