Bone Woman

Bone Woman is a quiet, strange and beautiful production. Shuffling alone through the desert, American storyteller Imani G Alexander assumes the guise of a mysterious figure who tracks wolf bones in the sand. Musing aloud on the themes of community, land and womanhood as she travels, Alexander conjures an atmosphere, dusty and deep, that feels impossibly larger than a small room in Infirmary Street has the capacity to contain. At various points in her wanderings the bone woman triggers the memory of old stories from cultures around the world – fragments from Irish, Gullah, Mexican-American and Inuit folklore – which take over her mind and body, letting her live through these remembered experiences. A performance that is remarkably human given its near-spiritual dimensions, Bone Woman is masterful, elemental storytelling.

The ideal late-night show for the intrepid hunter of stories

Alexander is at one with her characters; her portrayal of these diverse women is immediately commendable. As soon as she enters the stage, the bone woman is someone we believe in. Developed with skill through the narrative, the figure is always growing in eccentricity and mysterious charm. The dexterity with which Alexander is able to switch between characters is particularly impressive; following a brief period of seizure, or rapture, she awakes as one of her four alternative women. The folkloric stories which then emerge are colourful, macabre and female, generally pitched with precision. A highlight is the calm but subtly perturbed tone Alexander adopts to tell the tale of a dancing skeleton who refuses to die out of stubbornness. However, while each of these set pieces is equally interesting, their delivery is not equally successful. The last character monologue, specifically, does not live up to the expectations set by its predecessors in terms of tonal control and development. Admittedly, this passage is the most stylised and ethereal of the four, but the exposition is, nonetheless, overly hesitant. By the end Alexander manages to bring it up to the level of the rest of the performance but the character is less immediately captivating.

But this is a minor flaw in an otherwise exceptional production. Enchanted and enchanting, Bone Woman is the ideal late-night show for the intrepid hunter of stories.  

Reviews by Sam Fulton

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Somewhere in the desert borderlands, the bone woman wanders, collecting wolf bones and fragments of long-forgotten histories. She pauses as she picks up a signal on the wind. Listen to the whispering bones… Written, choreographed and performed by American storyteller Imani G Alexander, Bone Woman is an original new play adapted from Irish, Gullah, Mexican-American and Inuit folklore. These are tales of courage and sacrifice, perseverance and renewal – as told by the women whose voices reach from beyond the veil. Every bone tells a story.