Danielle writes movingly about loss and being lost. The boys of Barrie’s 19th century adventure stories become the girls of a 21st century tragedy—the victims of a school massacre. Danielle weaves the voices of these lost girls into polyphonic spoken-word collages that mirror the non-stop, social media landscapes we all navigate. We see the pressures to succeed, academically and socially, and how momentary decisions can have lasting, even permanent consequences. Captain Hook and Peter Pan might not be all that different. Heroes and villains are, after all, just people willing to do what the rest of us fear.
Danielle Mohlman is the rare writer who knows how to both embrace and elevate the theatrical medium. With DUST, she’s created a virtuosic score of poetry, movement, imagery, and characterization that — in addition to being a director’s dream piece — is a fresh point of view on this difficult, painful, and timely subject matter. DUST is a chilling, freaky acid-trip of poetic horror that needs to be seen.
Danielle’s writing is like music in the way that it escalates, building to a cacophony and still finding pockets of stillness. She tackles brutality with delicate language, allowing the play to breathe in a way that is frighteningly beautiful. Dust is a haunting play that should find its way to a stage. If you have a few hours — and a nightlight — dive in.
On one level, the writing is spare. Nexus unfolds as a series of vignettes. Mohlman tells us as much as we need to know. Most of the particulars of W and M’s lives — family, what each of them does for a living, background — are never revealed or are, at best, vague allusions. What matters is who and what W and M are now; how they respond to one another. Historic detail matters less than effect. The emotional undercurrents, however, are deep, complex, nuanced.Mohlman understands the complexities of relationship dynamics — how those dynamics are shaped by the personalities involved. In this emotional setting chemistry is a complex, not unerring equation. [...]No sentiment, no mawkishness, no melodrama, no artificial manipulation; just a remarkable 90 minutes of theater that lives in shades of grey.
The perceptive Mohlman creates a gallery of characters believably engaged in the struggle to shed the solipsism of young adulthood for a life filled with more serious purpose.