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Dust At The 13th Annual Wildside Theatre Festival

Posted by Jasia / January 17, 2010


One of six plays featured at this year's Wildside Festival, Dust is the story of two soldiers working in the Abu Ghraib, falling in love in a desperate situation.

Written and is this case directed by Jason Maghanoy, the play has been performed several times since 2006 when it was first presented as a solo show at the National Theatre School of Canada. For the Wildside, the two main (and only!) characters are played by Brandon Coffey, in the role of Jonathan and Jessica Moss, as Jenny. Both actors really give this play a lot- delivering energetic performances that pull off everything from sweetly sincere to chillingly sinister. Jessica Moss pushes especially hard at these limits, showing both a charming exuberance as well as a chilling lack of empathy or understanding.

I've heard nothing but great things about Dust, which may be one of the reasons I did feel a bit let down, despite the great performance of the actors. It's great that writers like Maghanoy are taking on subjects like this- difficult subjects that are uncomfortable and raise questions that are not easily answered. It's an even braver, more helpful idea to frame the issues by giving it a human angle, to see the worst and the best parts of humanity side by side and not necessarily unrelated.

I think what made me uncomfortable started the moment the actors opened their mouths and talked in heavy (Midwestern? Southern? Forgive me I'm not regional accents expert) accents. It seemed to get me, and the rest of the audience, off the hook, to say " the people who did this are not like you." This case only gets stronger as we learn that Jenny's main interests are McDonalds and magazines. I think the sense of immediacy and implication would have been stronger if I related more to the characters instead of finding them kinda funny.

Still, overall it was well pulled off with minimal yet potent props, and cleverly cropped transitions between scenes. I wish I had seen more of the offerings at the Wildside Festival, but (sigh) there is always next year.

Photo credit: Jessica Moss and Brandon Coffey



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