27 February 2018

Dust at Soho Theatre was astounding (again)


Having seen Dust on an Edinburgh preview run at The Bunker in July 2017 I very keen when it returned to London for a full run at Soho Theatre. The Sold Out sign on the poster tells you that lots of other people wanted to see it too, no doubt enticed from the very positive reviews it had easily collected.

Possibly because it was a one woman show, or perhaps because it was staged in the smaller upstairs space, it was priced at a ridiculously low £14. No wonder it sold out.

The unusually early start time, 7;15pm, was something of a challenge, particularly as people kept talking in my 5pm meeting at work and dragged it out until almost 5:45. A bit of careful haste, due to the snow, allowed me to catch the 5:52 train and I was back on some sort of plan. I got to Soho Theatre Cafe in time to share a pizza and I finished that just before the doors opened. Careful positioning, from experience, got me into the theatre quickly enough to claim a seat in the front row which is exactly where I wanted to be.

Having seen Dust before I had some idea of what to expect and while there were no surprises in the main themes the sheer speed with which stories were delivered meant that I had forgotten many of them. I had also forgotten the  bewildering range and depth of those stores. It was often very dark, as you would expect a play about a suicide to be, it was often extremely coarse with, for example, a graphic description of oral sex, it was often frivolous such as when she coveted Top Show vouchers and it was often funny too. It was a rich hailstorm of ideas.

The great success of Dust is that it easily encompassed that wide diversity of ideas while dealing with the main theme, depression, sympathetically and realistically. We were living in the intersection between a young woman's chaotic life and her depression.

The great success of Milly Thomas was not only that she wrote Dust but she also played all the characters in it, from the rich aunt to the drug riddles brother. The characters changed as quickly as the ideas and it was a very impressive performance.

Dust had evolved a little since I first saw it and the addition of lighting and sound effects added the professional touch that turned it from a work in progress to a fully formed show.

I am not sure who impressed me the most that evening, Milly Thomas the playwright or Milly Thomas the actor. It was also nice to meet Milly Thomas the young woman briefly afterwards to tell her just how much I had enjoyed the performance.

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