Bucket List

★★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Bucket List
Published 12 August 2016

Anger pours out of this production from the first few minutes, and doesn’t let up for the next 90. When Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, promises were made to Mexico of jobs, of a boost to the economy. And yet, as young Mexican girl Milagros points out, of course it would only be the US and Canada who would benefit; of course Mexico would end up suffering. 

We follow Milagros—fearsome Vicky Araico Casas—as her aunt, daily raped by her factory boss, is dismembered and discarded for speaking out. We follow as her mother is shot in the head during a public protest for speaking out. We follow as Milagros, made sick by polluted rivers and harmful labour conditions, burns with rage and seeks revenge. She wants to kill the powerful men whose names she finds on a bloodstained scrap of paper left behind by her mother.  

Through simple theatrical means, director and writer Nir Paldi tells a harrowing story. A persistent, haunting soundtrack is played live. There’s guitar, clarinet, flute, drums – never overbearing, always just underscoring the physical action. Singer and composer Amy Nostbakken sings strange, recitative-like songs with a drawling, tumbling voice, somewhere between sweet and sinister. 

The all-female cast is tightly choreographed, using fluid movements to transition between scenes and to build different environments. We come to know where the characters are—in the playground, the factory, the hospital—by their configuration on stage.

A bucket list is usually a token of hope and aspiration, something positive. Here, in a country ravaged by corruption and colonialism, it’s twisted into something else, the mark of one person’s futility against the state. And, in this chilling piece about the erosion of innocence by fury, it seems like the only option.