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Review: Theatre

Skeleton Wumman

Skeleton Wumman

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

POETIC, mystical, haunting ... you could easily, and accurately, tag these adjectives onto the current Play, Pie and Pint offering but that would reflect only half of the story that's told by the bones of Skeleton Wumman.

Writer/director Gerda Stevenson has woven her core material out of folklore - primarily an old Inuit legend - but her evocation of a drowned girl, her skeleton still sentient and observant under the waves, has piquant parallels with everyday realities. The tidal surge that washes the girl's village away is close to many a coastal home these days, however it's the element of disability - and how that can cloud our attitudes to an individual - that rises to the surface, like the skeleton itself.

In life, the girl's twisted bones had no independent mobility, no voice, no options but to be a couch potato watching TV with an unemployed father as an (often thoughtless) daytime carer. In her head is where she lives - and fancies the deaf lad at her weekly swimming session. In death, all fleshly constraints vanish and the skeleton - Amy Conachan - is free to pour out Stevenson's lyrical Scots imagery, humour and engagement with the underwater realms.

Conachan, a triumph in Wendy Hoose, makes the supernatural feel wonderfully human, revealing the girl who had the bright, merry intelligence only the lad in the pool recognised. Is the ending a dream come true, or just a flight of wishful fancy? Conachan, along with Seylan Baxter (whose live music swirls shifting moods and atmospheric colours throughout) and Buchan Lennon (whose signing offers another level of expressiveness) persuade you to hope for the best.

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