A piercingly effective and surprisingly funny at the impact of suicide – Dust has already sold out at the Soho Theatre in London but returns may be available.
“I’ve been dead for three days”
If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Given that Milly Thomas’ one-woman show Dust is centred on a young person’s suicide, there’s a surprising amount of humour contained therein. It’s of the darkest, most mordant kind of course, but it does mean that the emphasis of the writing skates a little close to the surface.
Alice decides to end it all but when she wakes in a hospital, it turns out she hasn’t succeeded quite how she wanted. For though she is dead, she hasn’t passed on and is forced to observe the aftermath of her decision to end her life, bear witness to the impact it has on her friends and family, the loved ones left behind.
As she moves between her grieving parents to boyfriend already shagging someone else, the pole-axed best friend to the stand-offish nature of her aunt, Thomas clearly revels in these pin-sharp instant characterisations and embodies their varying reactions with real skill, a mix of the obliquely funny with the heart-rendingly sincere.
Alice herself though remains a little too much of an enigma. Her frank and fearless sense of humour is wonderfully delivered but as a deflection from the uncompromising bleakness of the depression that blighted her life and caused her to end it, it leaves a little too much unsaid. That said, part of this is our own fault, our innate craving for neatly understandable endings.
Sara Joyce’s direction plays up some of this uncertainty as Anna Reid’s set design employs a number of mirrors to trap and reflect and confound Alice’s image of herself, especially in the moments where she overhears people being less than complimentary about her. Suicide induces brutal truths and Dust hides little of them.