Dust, a 70-minute engrossing monologue-drama infused with black humour, is shrouded in the untimely death of young Alice. The young female, gripped by depression, which skews her view of the world she lives in, chose to put an end to her life.b Suicide and mental illness are not exactly an alluring subject for a play, yet Milly Thomas’s writing and performance turn DUST into an all absorbing journey through which we have a glimpse into the inner world of the individual suffering from clinical depression.
Milly Thomas offers a great deal of laughter and, most importantly, a sobering experience that many people just beginning to understand something of the issues this play raises. It is not depressing, but rather enlightening. I go further and suggest that it should be shown at all universities to first year students.
Alice’s body has been in the morgue for three days. Her inner self, or one might say, her ghost, clad in a body-colour leotard, comes to life with acute comments, partly self-deprecating and partly mirroring anger and disillusionment with some friends.
We hear of years of booze, sex and emotional void. The gradual decline that is not obvious to others grows like a poisonous tree where she could hear a relentless inner voice to put an end to her life, a voice that filled her head even when making love, or to be more precise, having sex with her boyfriend.
A tender and moving moment, which illuminates like a light bulb in a dark room, is when Alice describes her father’s reaction to seeing his daughter’s body in the morgue. At that point, she pinions with sideways-arched body and stretched arms, but gently, as if not to wake his much-loved daughter from a deep sleep, encircling the void wrapped round the body, face flooded with anguish.
Milly Thomas’s solo performance is a master class in acting. Her role incorporates all relevant characters that touched Alice’s life. There is little, if any responsive engagement with her friends. By and large, she lived then as does now in virtual existence where Facebook and Instagram are an add-on crutch.
A stainless steel trolley constitutes the focal point of Thomas’s movement on stage. The bare morgue trolley is a constant reminder that this could be any young person’s body who suffers from deep depression and unable to find or get help in time.
Sara Joyce directs Dust. Milly Thomas’s performance sparkles throughout.
Joyce’s direction and Anna Reid simple yet very effective set design of three mirrors against a dark wall together with effective sound design by Max Perryment are crowned by Thomas’s outstanding performance.