A play about the imminence of death on Saturday night? why not… Just got back from Orange Tree theatre in Richmond seeing ‘buckets’ by Adam Barnard.
The play encompasses some thirty three interconnected scenes – some just a few lines others mini-plays in their own right, characters and moments – moments seized, moments wasted, moments you can never forget and moments you wish you could. It is a play about bucket lists (a list of things to do before you die), life planning and the disappointing fact that one day our lives will come to an end…
It is rather like a kaleidoscopic world of sadness and happiness, illness and death, youth and experience, kissing and crying, choosing to die or not having an option to choose.
But for me it was actually rather uplifting, much more positive than the script may suggest. Apart from the obvious fact that we need to try to live our lives more consciously and make the most of every moment, there was almost something very uplifting about the whole play.
The fact that some (only some…) hideous, painful and awful moments in our lives are actually still better than their complete absence. There was a brilliant monologue – mum being utterly upset and disappointed with her dying daughter ‘for not being able to leave her by herself at her 18th birthday party only to allow some boy to introduce her daughter into the adolescence, for not being able to find out she was drinking, smoking, using drugs, for not being able to find out her window is open and her daughter disappeared at 2am’ etc (some examples being rather extreme one would hope).
All these traumatic experiences one has to go through as a parent but then perhaps one should at least try to distance himself from it (as much as possible..) and ‘be grateful’ (in a way of course) for a sheer fact that we are allowed to experience this moment of being together with our child… however hideous it seems, our child is still there and we can still see her smile, we can still touch her and engage in a dialogue (well up to a point but still…).
I would hope this scene will spring into my mind when I have one of these ‘parent v teenager’ encounter with any of my children and hopefully will help me to keep my nerves at bay.
But then to balance the argument out was the scene where the young secondary school boy after falling in love with his teacher was trying to get her to join him in a ‘saving other people’s lives’ journey to a deep Africa where some women ‘have to walk miles twice a day to get some semi-clean water being raped on the way and not able to talk to anyone about their horrendous experience’. Are they better being alive or dead? Is there a limit to humans suffering? Should we be allow to chose whether to live or terminate our existence?
Ironically lots of the suffering the people inflict upon themselves by their own actions or choosing not to react when they should stand up for themselves or others in need.
Another great scene was when a guy was adamant he wanted to find out how many years to live he had left. He thought he wanted until the moment he was confronted with the person who was just about to disclose it to him and.. he backed up. And it is true – if we knew our life is going to be a short one we would erratically try to engage into as many activities as possible or not do anything at all as not worth it, we would have to live with the fact that our children may not experience our love for that long etc.
The same is true for the opposite. If we knew our life is going to be a very long one we would always leave things to try later on in life namely wasting our time. We would have to live with the fact that all our loved ones will die before us – what an unthinkable prospect is that!
So perhaps best not to know, perhaps best to live with love and time in mind, best to live our lives consciously and enjoy the moments we are given with our loved ones to the full.
And best of all I got some lovely yellow flowers on my way out which have been used in the play! 😉 What a beautiful moment – our life should be full of these beautiful flowers, we should aim to collect a big handful every day. There are so many ‘moments – flowers’ in our lives which we simply take for granted, pass by or worse step on them only to regret later on for not stopping, for not picking them up, for not contemplating or simply enjoying their beauty when there was still the right time to do it.