At the beginning of Bucket List we are told: ‘Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not’. For Mexican school girl, Milagros, it would be difficult to mistake the harsh reality of her life; both her mother and aunt are murdered by the authorities for doing nothing other than speaking out against injustice.
Add to this grisly subject matter the politics surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and you the premise for a play that isn’t instantly appealing. However, Theatre Ad Infinitum have a record of taking controversial issues of social injustice and presenting them in an imaginative and often award-winning style.
NAFTA created lots of jobs in Mexico, but jobs where workers weren’t valued as human beings. So, Milagros’ aunt is routinely sexually abused at work and her mother is threatened for protesting against the cancer-causing pollution that the factories let seep into the river.
The Bucket List, then, is a kind of hit-list for the end of the world. Milagros world has ended in the moment her family are murdered and so she decides to kill the men responsible for the creation and enforcement of NAFTA, a list which begins with the factory owner and ends with the presidents of Mexico and the USA.
What’s amazing about this show is how quickly and whole-heartedly the audience get behind Milagros (Vicky Araico Casas) and how dozens of characters and locations are so vividly presented thorough ensemble work alone. With such simplicity of set, the music (by Amy Nostbakken) performs a crucial role of providing atmosphere but also enables important information to be established through narration and song.
By the end of the play we see how Milagros’ perspective on what’s real and what isn’t has been altered. And most audience members are also forced to question what is important and what is not; are those cheap clothes and appliances worth the price of the lives who quite literally die to make them?
Ad Infinitum Theatre have succeeded again in producing an imaginative show with a narrative that produces powerful effects.
Bucket List plays at Pleasance Dome until August 29th (not 16 and 23) and performances begin at 15:50.