Family drama, freak storms, and the voice in your head—“Dust Storms”, the 2016 Emerson play, is a story of love in the face of disaster. The piece was written and directed by senior Dalia Glazman, and co-directed by senior Izzy Schettino.
“Dust Storms” is a vignette in the lives of characters simply called Husband and Wife, played respectively by senior Tristan Geary and junior Gracie Western, who live alone in a small house in an isolated desert. Because of their traumatic past, they can hardly bear to speak to or even look at each other. The only company they have is a being called Creed, played by junior Naomi Goodheart. Creed, according to Glazman, represented the joint consciousness of Husband and Wife. However, Creed’s existence to the characters seems to constantly be in question: Sometimes their dialogue with Creed remains completely in their head, and at other times it is heard by the other characters on stage.
The audience watched in suspense as the horrors of the couple’s past began to unravel, and it was painful and heartbreaking to watch Husband and Wife attempt to come to terms with what they have done. It is revealed that Husband committed murder, which is why the family needed to hide in the desert. Then, in a particularly wrenching scene, the death of their daughter, Esther (played by freshman Naomi Michelson), is reenacted on stage, as she gets locked outside of the house during a dust storm. Due to their lack of trust between each other, the couple is not able to psychologically process these events.
Other distractions soon plague them as well. Garth, the town’s animated and exuberant milkman, played by senior Nathan Kyn, is the object of Wife’s flirtation, forcing Husband to wonder if it’s worth it to repair their relationship at all. Then Judith, their other, thankless daughter played by sophomore Felicia Rosen, returns to her childhood home to implore her parents to make changes to their static life, causing the couple to reevaluate how they’ve treated their children and each other since Esther’s death.
The process of forgiveness is painful, especially when it comes to those you love. “Dust Storms” provided a brief but provoking window into how grief can affect both the individual and a family as a whole, and explores the way people lie to themselves in the aftermath of trauma.