Bucket List at the Pleasance Queen Dome
NAFTA – the trilateral trade pact signed by the governments of Mexico, Canada and the US in 1994 – is the catalyst for Bucket List, a harrowing tale of murder, abuse, revenge and chess from Bristol-based Theatre Ad Infinitum.
The all-female cast play multiple roles each and employ a nebulous narrative blend of music and movement in telling the story of 15-year-old Mila and her torrid existence, living along a polluted river in the Mexican slums at the raw end of the NAFTA deal.
When Mila’s mother, a prominent protester against dangerous factory working conditions, is shot dead, the youngster inherits the play’s titular list, providing the names of those the dead woman held responsible for their plight. When cruel fate conspires to place Mila in a situation with nothing to lose, she turns into an avenging angel. Using the nous of a chess grandmaster, she deals deadly justice to an evermore powerful number of company representatives and politicians, all the way to the very top of the global chain of command.
Although a worthy and politically thought-provoking revenge fantasy has been built around a compelling performance of understated resilience by Vicky Araico Casas, it has its flaws. The almost unrelentingly bleak tone can’t quite sustain the plot through its entire 90-minute runtime, which meanders a little too much through a circus of exploitations. Using physical theatre, the cast conjures the required sweatshop drudgery and the innocence of a slum playground well, but the musical accompaniment (part soundtrack, part overly-explanatory narration) often seems directionless and is sometimes actively distracting.
It’s not always by design that occasionally makes Bucket List a difficult watch, as it casts light on the corruption and exploitation affecting the Mexican people, but this work is an admirable piece all the same.
Bucket List is at the Pleasance Queen Dome from 3rd until 29th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.