Nir Paldi and partly devised by the company
Theatre Ad Infinitum
The bucket list that the teenage girl Milagros (Vicky Araico Casas) wants to achieve before she dies is unusual. She wants to kill among others the President of the United States.
We first meet her as a small child playing in the streets of her Mexican town. Her mother’s response to where she is playing is our first indication that something is wrong. Milagros is told that it is no longer safe to go far from her home.
In a spectacular show written by Nir Paldi and partly devised by the company, we follow through stylish choreography, song and well acted scenes by six women performers the story of this one child through the tragedy of Mexico being reshaped by a treaty designed to boost the prospects of American corporations.
It begins with the amiable figure of President Bill Clinton parading the supposed benefits of the 1993 Nafta treaty. But we quickly see the way this translates into Mexico’s nightmare.
American agribusiness drives Mexican farmers into poverty, crowding the rural poor into the border towns that have become a magnet for cheap wage American companies.
Milagros’s mother works twelve-hour shifts on an assembly line at 39 cents an hour. Her aunt working at the same plant is sexually abused by a cocaine fuelled boss who is certain the local police would be more likely to punish the victim if any complaint is made. Union activity is brutally suppressed.
Meanwhile beyond the workplace, the pollution of the water supply by factories kills people, and politicians turn a blind eye to it all. After all, Chapter 11 of the Nafta treaty threatens law suits against any health and safety activity that undermines profits.
Milagros’s ability with chess gives her the opportunity to carry out her secret wish to revenge a devastated community by killing the people she believes responsible.
It is an epic magical story that makes you care deeply not only about Milagros and the people around her but also a country terribly damaged by a brutal policy.
Milagros’s bucket list could seem like a solution of sorts to some people in the Middle East and across the global South suffering the consequences of American forieign policy. But Theatre Ad Infinitum show that it is an idea that is terribly flawed even if it is generated by a search for justice.
The alternative to that flawed bucket list is left as a question to the audience which on the occasion I saw the play stood to enthusiastically applaud what they had seen.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna