Theatre Ad Infinitum have a tendency to use the stage as a platform to raise awareness and provoke questions surrounding current social and political injustices and their most recent production ‘Bucket List’ is no different. It depicts the suffering of the world’s poorest at the hands of the world’s richest: a humanitarian crisis for which global capitalism is to blame. Written and directed by Nir Paldi, ‘Bucket List’ stars the brilliant Vicky Araico who plays a young Mexican girl whose mother is assassinated by the Mexican government for protesting against local politicians whose economic and sexual exploitation of poor Mexican women is directly galvanised by the greed of US corporations and perversion of the patriarchy. It is upon these people that protagonist, Milagros, seeks vengeance: the assembly line factory manager, the local mayor, the President of Mexico, the President of the United States of America, all of whom are male, and, although unsaid, upon us too, those who indulge in consumerist feast at capitalism’s dining table.
‘Bucket List’ is a play whose passion is intensified by the chaotic fusion of method: physical theatre, live musical accompaniment (which sometimes intensifies, sometimes, with comedic touches, mollifies the action), story-telling and dance; and the chaotic fusion of genre: ostensibly a linear narrative, the explosive flashbacks and dream-like scenes dissolve the temporal linearity and push the play into the realm of magic realism; the genre closest to the heart of Latin America. The method and genre break from convention in a subtle and seamless way to create something new and beautiful and its magical realism serves to solidify the plays roots in Latin American (Mexican) tradition, theatrically enacting what the play’s protagonist attempts: break from the Western white male’s cultural control.
Nir Paldi’s direction is slick and sophisticated and makes up for what is, at some points, slightly weaker and less convincing writing (though those points are few and far between). The performance by the all-female cast is wonderful, their energy is palpable, and Vicky Araico is simply sublime. Her performance is at once nuanced and universal, the frustration and rage she portrays fills the Pleasance Dome and permeates the hearts of the audience, half of whom, I’m willing to bet, have never even visited Mexico. That is the power of the play, to allow an audience to empathise with the plight of a people who are thousands of miles from the Edinburgh Fringe and engage in something greater than them, greater than the play, and greater than the Fringe itself. Theatre Ad Infinitum has managed to create a play which is not just a wonderful piece of theatre in its own right but one which sheds light upon real social issues and forces an audience to not just think about these issues but share in the victims’ pain. ‘Bucket List’s theatrical splendour and critical power must be experienced by all. 5 star - * * * * * @ Pleasance Dome Harrison Sharkey