Reviewed – 23rd February
“Thomas paints a vivid environment, making Anna Reid’s intentionally bare set come alive”
It’s not an easy task to create and then try to promote a show that features depression, suicide, and a funeral, as a good time to be had at the theatre. However, Milly Thomas, the writer, performer and all-round star in the making, has succeeded in her latest triumph, Dust. Having sold out to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year, it now makes its transfer to London, displaying the dark and (who would have known) lighter sides of killing yourself. With brutal honesty, humour and heartache, Thomas delivers an exceptional one-woman, yet, multi-character, show that is faultless in its writing and, its execution.
Alice (Milly Thomas) inspects a body as it lies on a metal, wheelie table in the morgue. It’s her body. She’s dead. Alice has killed herself that day. She decides that life is not worth living anymore. Yet, she is stuck in her own universe, invisible to the rest of the world, watching the aftermath of her suicide and the effect it has taken upon her family and friends. For better or for worse, her death has made an impact. It has changed the people that she knew. Once the novelty of being dead has worn off, Alice begins to realise that death may not have been the solution that she was hoping for.
There are so many great things about Dust that Milly Thomas offers, for example, demonstrating the comical and bizarre situations that can surround death. Thomas makes the audience laugh just as much, if not more so, than she does making them feel uncomfortable. Her caustic candidness can be a little near the knuckle or graphic to watch, but you have to remember it is mainly your imagination that is filling in the horrific detail. Thomas paints a vivid environment, making Anna Reid’s intentionally bare set come alive. With the addition of her brilliant characterisations of each member of Alice’s family and friends, Thomas creates the illusion of a large-scale production all on the strength of her detailed storytelling. You forget that it is just one person up on stage.
What is probably most commendable about this production is the fact that it is shining light on the issues of mental health and depression, which are still such taboo topics. It is certainly not represented enough on stage. Milly Thomas contributes nuanced arguments and perceptions that surround the act of suicide, whilst delivering an electrifyingly energetic visual spectacular.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by The Other Richard
Soho Theatre until 17th March