When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the
leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of
eerie events haunts the new cast…
The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead
actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for
Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But
who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess
Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in
her dressing room?
Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the
new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past,
everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage
real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?
Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic,
obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in
the theatre shadows, you see everything.
And Chloe has been watching
If you follow Louise Beech on Instagram or Twitter you would know her background was very much rooted in theatre. Her novels have never taken us there until, I Am Dust, when the dusty rundown Dean Wilson Theatre became the location. Her in-depth knowledge of a theatre’s inner workings, shone through, although I’m not sure her real life theatre was quite as run down as this one.
You could imagine the peeling paint, the scuffed floors, the slight rips in the seats. It was backstage that I found most intriguing, the jumble of props, scenery, the discarded costumes before the dressing room, the one in which actress Morgan Miller died. As Beech took you inside you felt the change in atmosphere, the chill of a past that came back to haunt her main character, Chloe.
Chloe may have been thirty, yet there was a vulnerability about her, her mental health poised on a knife edge, one that could tip at any time. Why you wondered, what was it about Chloe that had stagnated her life, that saw her lonely and fragile.
The answer lay in her past, as Beech alternated the chapters, took us back to the 16 year old Chloe, to a youth theatre and her involvement in that Scottish Play, the one that must never be uttered, Macbeth. It seemed the perfect match to the strange and eerie happenings of a teenagers experimentation in the age old oujia board. Ryan the instigator, Jess, Chloe’s best friend, and willing participant in her bid to win Ryan’s attention, Chloe their third wheel, but ultimately the conduit through which the spirits, the messages travelled.
Beech, ramped up the tension, the dark, deserted church hall, the flickering candles, the slightest noise exaggerated, the upturned glass shifting, the scribbling of Chloe’s pencil as she furiously wrote the messages.
What was once an innocent game soon took on a dark, tangled mess of intrigue that seeped into the future, the all pervading question of who killed Morgan Miller hung around, threatening and menacing .
Beech made Chloe confront her fears and anxieties, you could sense the struggle, the reappearance of faces from the past that pushed her further and further to the precipice.
Just like Chloe you wanted answers, yet Beech wasn’t forthcoming, she dangled snippets of information, introduced characters that all could have done the deed. Beech, ramped up the strange noises, the voices, until in a locked dressing room, the big reveal, the shock, the revelations, the ending not quite what you expected.
It was a surreal, unusual ending that could have looked out of place, or awkward but somehow Beech’s skill made it the perfect outcome, sad in some ways, happy in others.
I Am Dust highlighted Beech’s range and versatility as an author, whatever she chooses to write somehow works, her talent seemingly boundless, a bounty for all her fans. The only question that remains is just where will she take us next?
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of I Am Dust to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tour for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To
Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The
Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her
previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely
reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The
Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic
Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the
Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition,
as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her
husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House
Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.