The director spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about the upcoming West End transfer of Milly Thomas’ Dust .
Hi Sara, thanks so much for talking to me. How are you feeling about the transfer? Oh I’m so excited. It’s cool isn’t it? I feel really lucky we get to do the show again and see it in a new space. It’s amazing how the team keeps growing too. We started as this motley crew of prosecco fiends in Edinburgh and have steadily acquired brilliant shipmates who make it keep getting better.
What attracted you to the story of Dust initially? Milly. I didn’t really know what it would become. But I loved the place it was coming from and I knew Milly would be incredible. I knew it would be challenging and crazy but fun. And it has been!
How would you describe the story? It’s about a young woman called Alice who we meet at the moment she realises she is dead. She has killed herself and is forced to witness the aftermath and consequences of her own suicide.
It deals with quite sensitive topics – how did you find the whole experience of bringing it to the stage? Like a lot of people, I deal with things that are beyond me by laughing at them. I think laughter is the most honest reaction to anything and the most communal. So, comedy was imperative to the piece and the rehearsal room. And then I committed to every moment. I’m proud of that. There’s a deep truth to this play and what it depicts and it felt really important to me to present that honestly and without censorship. Culture and media now glamourise death and particularly suicide. It’s not useful or responsible. So as a team we’ve always been very aware of being a counter to that.
What can those who have not seen it expect? It’s quite full on and fast moving but very funny too. And while you’re stuck with Alice – by which I mean both literally and in the way she is as part of the story, there’s a range of characters we meet who I think can resonate with people who find her personal journey difficult to make sense of.
What do you think or hope the main message that audiences will take away from the show? We need to communicate. Not talking is killing us. And suicide is not an escape or an answer. But we all need to start speaking honestly about why it might feel like the only option for some people sometimes. And as impossible as it seems, begin to make a space where discourse around that is encouraged. So that we can start to discover ways to support people before they need to ask for it.
By Emma Clarendon
Dust will play at the Trafalgar Studios from the 4th September until the 13th October. To book tickets visit here: ATG Tickets.