Bromance and Bucket Lists
by Jessie White
There are many people of differing ages who start reflecting upon their life so far, or think forward to the future and where it is heading and they question whether it is all they wanted and hoped for. This guilt or disappointment about where they are at in their lives or their relentless endeavour for more excitement and accomplishments usually leads to them thinking about how they can expand what they have achieved and experienced. In order to help organise the implementation of these life goals a well-known list is created. This list helps form and catalogue one or many bold and even outrageous ideas intended to broaden life experiences and help overcome fears, leaving people feeling increasingly content and providing them with clarity in their life’s trajectory and the decisions they make. This list is aptly labeled the bucket list. The phrase bucket list derives from “kick the bucket”, a term for death, with unclear origins, but which quite likely relates to the bucket kicked away at a hanging. It has become a common phrase after the release of the film The Bucket List, in which the characters played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman meet in a cancer ward, then race around the world, packing in experiences.
In Red Stitch Actors Theatre’s amusing production of D.C. Moore’s Straight, Lewis sets a raunchy, drunken challenge with his equally heterosexual long lost university friend Waldorf and they both agree to participate. The idea emerges after Lewis learns how different their lives are and how stifled, restrained and enclosed in his married life he is perceived to be by both Waldorf and his friend Steph. Waldorf makes Lewis feel boring and discontent when he discusses his many adventures in some of the most remote countries on the planet. Lewis appears insecure and nervous and finds that he is indeed to some degree uptight, conservative and predictable. He feels the need to prove that he fits none of those descriptions and he believes he will uphold his masculinity by completing something daring. The challenge of committing to the dare becomes like an item on a bucket list and neither of the central characters will allow themselves to back down.
About three months ago an accomplished modern explorer who never accepted defeat in his challenges died. This American man explored vast parts of the world from the Congo River to the Great Barrier Reef and he completed a range of experiences including milking a poisonous snake, watching a cremation ceremony in Bali and becoming proficient in the use of a plane, motorbike, tractor, canoe, surfboard, rifle, pistol, microscope, basketball, football, bow and arrow and boomerang. This man came up with a ‘Life List’, which has since become known as a bucket list of all the goals he wanted to achieve. He created this list when he was 15 and bored on a rainy day in 1940. His name was John Goddard and he completed 109 of his 127 challenging goals and created a self – help franchise.
Many young people are also starting to become involved in the trend of creating bucket lists and their reasons and inspirations for doing this are varied. They are quitting their jobs, allowing their bucket lists to dictate the direction of their lives. Manly resident, Seb Terry quit his job and created the popular ‘100 Things’ website helping people create their own lists and share them. He was inspired to create his own list after his friend tragically died at 24 and this made him question whether his friend would have changed the way he lived his life. Amongst all the travel adventures on his list one of the listed items was to raise $100,000 for Camp Quality, a children’s cancer charity and he is close to completing this having raised $71,000.
Another young man, Sebastian Robertson who is 27, resigned from his job in the corporate sector to fulfill his only bucket list item so far, to establish his own mental health charity, Batyr. He says it was the first time he simply backed himself. This is similar to Lewis and Waldorf’s situation in that both characters want to see their dare through and Waldorf actually wants to finish something for the first time. However, their reasons for doing something adventurous and challenging stem more from not wanting to back down and appear weak. Their reasons are more individualised rather than geared towards helping others. Are bucket lists and challenges to force you out of your comfort zone really a good idea then, as there are so many websites encouraging, compiling and sharing goals and experiences that fulfill lives. Some of the common online bucket lists items included visiting all the wonders of the world, flying in a hot air balloon and holding a baby white tiger.
The play has several similarities to films such as Dead Poets Society with themes such as seizing the day and meeting challenges. Straight also takes on the bromance theme and examines male friendships that are occasionally, uncomfortably close for those involved. This theme is examined in recent contemporary buddy films such as I Love You Man and Superbad. Straight takes this bromance theme to another level though. It raises the question of what happens when a bromance has the possibility of evolving.
Straight illustrates the power of influence and peer pressure that can continue into all ages of life. It shows that this is not a mentality just reduced to teenagers. The play inspects the lengths some will go to in proving a point both to others and one’s self. In the case of Straight this is seen through Lewis’s fierce quest to prove he is not predictable and stuffy. However, Lewis is chasing new and exciting experiences and discoveries that the freedom of youth often enable but only for a restricted period of time, this free period is limited because the responsibilities that come with being an adult must commence in order to work, keep satisfying stable relationships and ultimately create realistic achievements in life.
This hilarious contemporary comedy is showing at Red Stitch Actors Theatre from August 30 – September 28 and is sure be a hit. Word of the levels of enjoyment experienced through viewing this play is sure to spread like wildfire so book now to avoid missing out on an enormously entertaining evening or side-splitting Saturday matinee.