Writer: Adam Barnard
Director: Lee Hart
Reviewer: Helen Tope
While some plays emerge from the writer’s imagination almost fully-formed, the far more interesting ones take a circuitous route.
Buckets, Adam Barnard’s first full-length play, started life as a melodrama. Written as the story of a dying child, Buckets aimed to explore the concept of the bucket list – a list of wishes to be fulfilled before one, quite literally, kicks the bucket.
Barnard scrapped this ideabut found himself returning to the bucket list theme. He sketched out ideas that evolved into a series of vignettes musing on a single theme: time. What do you do with it? How should you spend it? And how does our relationship with time impact on our sense of mortality?
Buckets explores the slippery, finite nature of time with humour and warmth: the scenes jostle side by side, tonally ranging from insightful and thought-provoking to boisterous comedy (sky-diving hamsters, anyone?). Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Young Company offers performance opportunities for young people aged 5 years to 25, and this company tackled Barnard’s play with a fearlessness that entirely suits the work.
Buckets contemplates our comprehension of time by using the virtual world as a metaphor. Battery life vs. real life – the boundaries, suggests Barnard, have become increasingly blurred. Buckets implies that we shun real connections, instead choosing a virtual existence of likes and LOLS. We avoid commitment, preferring to distract ourselves with the minutiae of life. It is here that the concept of a bucket list – that playlist of life-defining moments – gets turned on its head. The fear of having to choose, to make that list, means that the list then becomes meaningless. The big moments dissolve and become part of a mosaic of memories, thoughts and impressions. In the end, suggests Barnard, this is all there is – and that’s exactly how it should be.
Led by staff Director Lee Hart (in his final production for Theatre Royal Plymouth), Young Company as a collective are sharp, polished and clearly loving what they’re doing. Their focus really impresses; the scenes move quickly and the transitions are seamless. Buckets is a complex, multi-layered work that demands its players bring their A-game, and Young Company certainly does that.
Everything about this production is impressive, from the cohesive way the scenes knit together, to the neon-lit set, mimicking the dying battery of a mobile phone. A lot of care and attention has been put into making this production work; as a play, Buckets lives within its small moments and every moment onstage is certainly made to count.
Buckets is as much about the detail as the big picture, and Young Company nails both. Whatever you’re doing this week, make an effort to see this play. It’s time well spent.
Runs until 27 August 2016 | Image: Fiona Walsh