Theatre Ad Infinitum
From 14 July 2016 to 17 July 2016
Review by David Chadderton
This latest work-in-progress from Theatre Ad Infinitum centres on a personal crusade with a political backdrop: the story of a serial killer in which the audience is led to sympathise with the murderer.
The political context is laid out in detail at the start, with a speech about the North American Free Trade Agreement (between Canada, USA and Mexico) and the poor pay and conditions at assembly plants in Mexico manufacturing goods for Western markets. Mostly female workers have no rights, may be sexually abused by male supervisors and are sacked if they complain. In addition to all this, uncontrolled pollution is causing illness and premature death amongst the poorest and most vulnerable citizens.
Milagros's mother has a list of people she holds responsible for the situation, going right up to the presidents of the US and Mexico, and shrugs off threats, but she is shot dead while protesting. Heartbroken Milagros takes the list and works out ways of killing them in revenge.
Some people are relatively easy to reach, but for some of those at the top of the list she has to be more creative, which she does by learning how to play chess and entering a competition to play the two presidents. However, time is against her as she is diagnosed, while still a teenager, with terminal lung cancer from the polluted air.
This show is billed as a work in progress so my comments should be considered with that in mind—the next performances may be substantially different.
The mix of performance styles used to tell the story work perfectly well and are not unusual. The story is exciting and often horrifying, but there are a few too many coincidences towards the end plus a few other implausible turns in the story that may break audiences' belief in the story.
The opening of the piece suggests that there is an intention to draw attention to a political situation that should change, but if the story then takes us into implausible fantasy it could lose audience sympathy for the cause that may have been created initially. I'm not sure what the link is between NAFTA and the situations shown in the play; either I missed something or this could have been clearer.
However it is very well-performed and does largely have an exciting story to follow, plus there does appear to be an important message behind the play, even if the links aren't yet as clear as they could be. It will be interesting to see how the show develops into the final piece.