theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Published 08 Aug 2017

There's a bold physicality to the opening of Dust in which a soul has a literal out-of-body experience, examining her corpse while it lies prostrate on a cold, metallic mortuary bench. After prying her own legs apart, she inspects her vessel from new and unfamiliar angles, in some ways a stranger to her own self. Soon medical staff and family surround the cadaver and our protagonist looks on as it is violated by routine procedures and ritualised grief. The soul's commentary hints at disgust, self-loathing, guilt and grim amusement all at once, a suitably complex response considering Alice was a suicide.

Milly Thomas is brilliant in this one-woman piece, her performance as Alice testing our sympathies in the way that those with severe mental health issues often do. She's often foul mouthed, selfish and mean, but to eminently realistic effect. Only does the character's preoccupation with sex seem over-egged.

Dust achieves its emotional pay-off when Thomas breaks away from Alice and inhabits the characters' friends. To watch her mourn the deeply flawed human she's paraded before us up until this point is heartbreaking in the extreme. If the play ultimately has little to say about life, depression and relationships, it stands as a visceral evocation of grief and despair.