City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Bucket List, Pleasance Dome, Review


By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 10 August 2016

Bucket List - Photo credit Alex Brenner
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Show details
Venue: 
Pleasance Dome
Company: 
Theatre Ad Infinitum
Running time: 
90mins
Production: 
Nir Paldi (writer / director), George Mann ((dramaturge and movement director), Amy Nostbackken (composer / musical director), Max Johns (set / costume designer) Peter Harrison (lighting designer), Chris Bartholomew (sound designer / additional music). (Co-devised with the cast).
Performers: 
Vicky Araico Casas, Charlotte Dubery, Amy Nostbackken, Orian Michaeli, Deborah Pugh, Stefanie Sourial, Haruna Komatsu (musician).

In the latest production from physical theatre specialists Theatre Ad Infinitum, sometimes it is hard to tell what is real, and what is not.

So we hear in this story of Milagro, a young Mexican girl growing up with the consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Dreamt up to eliminate trade barriers, relieve stress on the American middle-class and make goods more affordable to Mexican workers, her reality under the Agreement is a home of recycled American garage doors and grinding work in a polluted, dangerous border factory town.

Life revolves around the women in her life; her mother, sister, aunt and co-workers. They are tightly bound by both love and fear as they struggle to survive the Maquiladoras workshops, earning 39 cents an hour to produce expensive western goods. We hear a litany of the multinational brands who have capitalised on this cheap labour source. Products that fill every room of our homes.

Those who should protect them, the politicians and the police, instead prey upon them; dogs to their foreign masters, tethered by a leash of corruption.

Resistance seems futile and protest is perilous. When her mother is killed as she tries to expose the injustices, Mila is left with a list of those who have blood on their hands.

When a researcher working on her PhD arrives to start a community centre Mila might have her next move. There is the offer of a chess tournament that would take her to the top and allow her to take direct revenge. With limited time on her hands the roll of the guilty becomes a bucket list. Mila is going to take out the trash.

Her chess training helps with her next moves – now she just needs to finish the game, but in making her vengeance personal she may not prove to be her mother’s match.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what it real, and what is not. The story is told with a shape-shifting quality and parts could even be Mila’s own medicated hallucinations as her health fails. Appropriately for someone whose name means miracle, she seems able to revise the story to make her moves fit. Sections flashback to childhood war-like games and the recurrent nightmare of her mother’s death. That fatal moment rings out throughout to great effect.

The style is trademark of the company, using physical storytelling, dance and live music. The movement is wonderfully slick and the songs bittersweet, often with a menacing undercurrent.

The alternate magical realism reality allows the righting of real world wrongs, but the fantastical plot seems rather thinly drawn over its frame. The chess analogy with the people as pawns seems a little facile and for all the use of flashbacks, the story still feels linear and a little protracted in its telling. While it draws attention to the real life injustices it could still hit harder. The naming of names is certainly a brave move and it’s easy to imagine corporate lawyers preparing threatening edicts.

Those coming to the company for the first time will be entirely won over by the mix of movement and theatrical magic, but those familiar with their work will know that further miracles are possible.

Show Times: 3 – 29 (not 16 or 23) August 2016 at 3.50pm.

Tickets: £10.50 (£9) to £13.50 (£12.50).

Suitability: 14+