Skeleton Woman

Fringe Tent / First Church, Dunedin

30/09/2006 - 03/10/2006

Dunedin Fringe 2006-9

Production Details

Written by Kathleen Gallagher
Directed by Jane Prendergast

A powerful solo performance by Helen Moran on the Inuit legend ‘Skeleton Woman’*. Moving, compelling, this theatre collaboration between Jane Prendergast, Kathleen Gallagher and Helen Moran touches on universal themes of love and terror, life and death, beauty and the beast. Percussion, songs, choreography, poetry, puppet and mask bring this savage world to life.

*[Not to be confused with the novel by Renee: The Skeleton Woman (Reed, 2002) – ED]

Performed by Helen Moran

Theatre , Solo ,

45 mins

Blend of Inuit and Maori evokes emotions

Review by Barbara Frame 03rd Oct 2006

An almost bare performance area awaited the audience at Saturday night’s performance of Skeleton Woman in First Church (transferred from the Festival Tent) — almost bare, except for what looked like a battered human skeleton.

The performance begins when Helen Moran, the black-clad solo performer, appears to the accompaniment of other-worldly music and the sounds of Arctic wildlife, staring into an unknowable distance.

Early in the piece, standard new age and feminist references to wild women, earth-mothers, Diana the huntress, blood, ancient wisdom, and the cycles of birth and death, sorrow and joy, indicate the nature of what is to come.

Written by Kathleen Gallagher and directed by Jane Prendergast, Skeleton Woman blends Inuit legend and Mâori tradition, telling the story of a nameless woman, cruelly drowned, whose skeleton is hooked by a fisherman and restored to life by his kindness.

In conveying this violent and tender tale, Moran’s story-telling incorporates song and dance, and employs the kind of expressive theatricality that, for as long as anyone can remember, has been described as "avant garde".
Although the pace drags a little at times, the piece, both an elegy for a way of life determined by the rhythms of nature and a celebration of the redeeming power of love, succeeds in evoking fundamental human emotions: fear, horror, wonder, gratitude.

The 45-minute performance earned the approval of an audience of about 15 people.


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