Dust is a show with a message. I think it would have been impossible to notice that fact given the heavy hand with which it is executed. Underneath this, however, is a well put-together show with strong performances, great blocking and an excellently executed script. The show follows an aging Arthur Scargill, who is writing a historical biography of the famous 1926 protester Arthur Cook, on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s death. While he writes, an old political friend from the strikes, Lawrence, comes to his penthouse flat to tell a story to both Scargill and his publisher Barbara. The action is framed alongside the struggles of an expecting young couple during this year’s public sector cuts. As more information is revealed, the show comes to an affecting emotional crescendo. I never thought a show could make me genuinely feel for Arthur Scargill.The performances here are brilliantly executed. Scargill somehow comes across as balanced and likable, Barbara is suitably particular and uppity, and the young couple are appropriately sweet. This is not to say that all the actors are perfect. Lawrence is portrayed bluntly and angrily. Although this suited the character, the performance comes across as two dimensional. The actors also work well with the set. The same area is used to portray both Scargill’s and the couple’s flat and the actors move seamlessly between the scenes. On top of this, the constant melody played over the scene changes is beautiful and supports the action well.Though this show is well put-together, the all-encompassing message, which the show drives in with the subtlety of a hammer, takes away from the emotional heart of the story. It is still worth a watch though, if only to imagine that Thatcher is dead for an hour and a quarter.

The Blurb

The morning of Margaret Thatcher's death. An ageing militant with a dark secret visits Arthur Scargill's Barbican flat, a pregnant woman stares from a Doncaster maisonette. Humorous, tragic, angry, England 1984-2011 unravels. The dust of history falls. www.universalartsfestival.com