Dust follows a young woman (Milly Thomas), who after committing suicide, finds herself a voyeur to the aftermath of her death; forced to watch the knock-on effect it has on those closest to her. Writer & performer Thomas, aims to shine a light on mental illness, with the hope of reducing the stigma attached to suicide and to encourage people – not just patients and doctors, but everyone – to talk more openly about mental health.
Dust opens with a painstakingly loud, harsh, high-pitched ring, forcing the majority of the audience to quickly protect themselves by shielding their ears. This knee-jerk reaction is typical of society when broached with the topic of suicide and depression. The first step to combat this is for the community to stop covering their ears and start to listen. That’s exactly what Dust achieves.
Anna Reid’s Set Design is minimalist and symbolic, with only a cold metal table and three hanging mirrors on stage. This leaves the character with nowhere to hide and evokes images of body dysmorphia. Thomas wears a plain, skin-coloured bodysuit throughout, which coupled with Jack Weir’s harsh strobe lighting, brings attention to the issue of body image and how female bodies in particular are scrutinised. Although provoking a laugh from the crowd, the admission by the character, that after death, she’s finally achieved her body goal, is a truely heartbreaking statement.
The final scene shows the suicide take place. It’s achieved by taking an overdose of pills. Nothing about it is glorified or gratuitous. It’s utterly painful to watch and drives home the fact that suicide is by no means an easy way out. The familiar harsh ringing of Max Perryment’s sound design, returns to close the piece. However, this time, fewer people are choosing to silence it, no matter how painful.