Edinburgh review: Bucket List (Pleasance Dome)
The play is about a Mexican child whose mother is shot during a protest against factory conditions
The NAFTA trade agreement, signed in 1993, between the US, Mexico and Canada hardly sounds like promising material for drama. Yet Bucket List takes the effects of global capitalism on the world's poorest and most defenceless people and turns it into a blisteringly magnificent play. Written and directed by Nir Paldi and performed by Theatre Ad Infinitum, it is powered by righteous anger - a rare thing in theatre, when political concerns are so often dissipated by sentiment. But even rarer is the way that, by the simplest of means, it communicates its message with such magical theatrical force.
It tells the story of Milagros, a Mexican child, whose mother is shot when she leads a protest against the appalling conditions in the factories encouraged by those trade agreements that enable multi-national companies to exploit Mexican workers. She lives in a society where the entire system is poisoned; the waters of the local river are polluted; cancer-causing chemicals fill the air; the men in charge abuse the women and children around them.
Nobody cares and there is no justice. When Milagros's aunt goes to the police to complain about her daily rape by the factory boss, her dismembered body is thrown out into the streets. When a policeman spies a pretty teenage girl, he takes her into the back of his car. Finally, Milagros has had enough: she determines on a campaign of revenge.
I am writing about all this as if I have witnessed it. Yet all I have watched is an all-female cast in jeans and T-shirts moving on a stage - and conjuring whole worlds, in stylised choreography and vivid freeze-frame moments. In front of your eyes, they become children playing, or corrupt officials, or tired women on the bus home, or factory workers in synchronised routine.
As Milagros, Vicky Araico Casas leads the line with a wide-eyed, compelling passion. But the entire group is superb; the music by Amy Nostbakken, an effective, atmospheric accompaniment.
What I love about the Edinburgh Fringe is the opportunity it offers to see something that you would never normally have come across - something that you remember and think about long after it is over. This show is one of those. I am profoundly glad to have seen it.
Bucket List runs at Pleasance Dome until 29 August (except Tuesdays)