dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Milagros has a bucket list with a difference
Milagros has a bucket list with a difference. She's not worrying about swimming with dolphins or climbing Kilimanjaro – she has a list of people she wants to kill. Her bucket list is a bloody sheet of paper which she pulled from the hands of her dying mother, who was shot as she demonstrated against injustice in her home town in Northern Mexico.
Theatre Ad Infinitum's Bucket List is an angry play. It uses Milagros' fight for revenge to reveal to its audiences the many injustices faced by women in poor border towns in Mexico. A far cry from the five star hotels and beaches of Cancun, these places are desperate. Women are forced to work long hours in factories churning out goods for the United States of America at bargain prices. Here they face industrial poisoning and sexual abuse at the hands of their employees. When they go home they are surrounded by rivers made lethal by leaking chemicals, politicians who are corrupt and police officers who, instead of protecting women and children, are the ones raping and murdering them.
But Milagros decides enough is enough. Dying of cancer, which we are led to believe has been caused by the pollution around her, she has nothing to lose and is determined to revenge her mother's killing. Painstakingly the teenager plots the demise of each person on the bucket list – and no matter how high in office they are, she is determined they will pay.
The cast of six women swap and change roles, using physical theatre, dance, music and song to move the story along, giving it depth and strong visual imagery. Currently being performed in The Door, the smaller space at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the drama is just feet (and in some cases inches) away from the audience so it is hard not to feel pulled into its maelstrom.
Milagros, played by Tamsin Clarke, is a whirlwind of energy as she schemes, faces frustrations, schemes again and overcomes every setback. In this 90 minute drama we see her transformed from a child playing games in the street to a calculating force of justice. Deborah Pugh plays a number of roles including Milagros' mother Maria and the enthusiastic do-gooder Jenny whose charity wants to help children like Milagros. Shamira Turner also gives plenty of character performances – from the corrupt local mayor to American presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush.
Written and directed by Nir Paldi, co-artistic director of Ad Infinitum and presented and supported by a consortium of regional theatres, Bucket List picked up the Spirit of the Fringe Award at Edinburgh Festival last year and is currently on an extensive tour.
At times its anger boils over so that, with everyone shouting at once, it can be hard to distinguish quite what they are saying or shouting about. Sometimes a little less volume can actually shout louder. But that aside, there is plenty of energy in Bucket List and it certainly carries a powerful punch. Reflecting on a country where thousands of women disappear and suffer violence, rape and sexual assault, Bucket List encourages us all to be angry.