Dir. Neil Packham, Citizens Theatre, 1-4th November
Time will run out.
This is the concern at the heart of Buckets, and it is a theme that especially benefits from its performance by the Citizens Theatre Young Co., a company of 18-22 year old theatre creators. The inevitability of death is mused upon in a collection of vignettes by actors my own age, and I am reminded that these are fears that are deeply relevant to what has been labelled an apathetic and narcissistic generation. The strength of Buckets comes from the production’s ability to confront death head on, toying with tired old sayings about seizing the day but not quite buying into these hackneyed morals.
It is perhaps ironic that the power of such a notably musical performance comes from the synthesis of music with the quietest moments. Music permeates the piece throughout, whether incorporated into scenes or played in transitions. It is undeniably beautiful, and it is undeniable that the company is full of talented musicians. It is also impressive how well the music works in tandem with the script. It enhances moments of delicate emotion to great effect, as the most touching scenes are left silent and the audience somewhat bereft.
Though the company’s addition of musical interludes work to harmonise the whole production, this alone cannot completely salvage what ultimately feels like a muddled emotional journey. The pacing of the show is frankly bizarre. Comic scenes are grouped together rather than spread between more tragic scenes, and the emotional end of the show comes a few scenes earlier than the actual end. The play also does not utilise its small cast of recurring characters in any meaningful way, nor does it derive comedy from much other than characters spouting quirky monologues. It is as if the playwright has stuck together scenes from a collection of other plays with a vaguely similar theme into one confused collage.
That being said, the work of the company is without fault – every actor was comfortable switching between characters with each still bringing their own unique energy to the stage. It is refreshing to see young people thriving in an industry that can be so hard to break into, and I very much look forward to seeing their future work.