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This is a rare, unafraid and hauntingly beautiful piece of physical theatre. It’s breathtaking to witness how Kath Burlinson shows the way a body holds and expresses emotion. In this solo show, the co-founder of The Weird Sisters weaves a magic that veers between lightness and dark as she inhabits three characters in a tale that has the mythic elements of a fairy story and the heart-rending dimensions of tragedy.
Speaking a strange, non-verbal language that feels alien yet strips meaning to its essence, Burlinson is in turns a grandmother with a penchant for mischief, a mother whose daughter is all the more precious to her because of her babies who died, and the daughter who journeys to the underworld.
On an almost bare stage, with a haunting intermittent soundtrack, Burlinson uses her body to tell stories that are about the most profound—and hard to articulate—human emotions: pain, loss, love.
It is astonishing to see Burlinson’s liquid transformation between each person, almost as if she is being possessed by them. Even more captivating, she is completely believable as each; her presence is extraordinary, whether she’s the witch-like crone, the mother ripped apart with grief as she searches in the darkest places for her missing child, or the daughter experiencing the extremes of ecstasy and demonic possession.
There are dozens of one-woman shows at the Fringe, but few will be quite like this. Kath Burlinson’s breathtaking depiction of three generations of women relies entirely on the performer’s physical prowess. Fortunately Burlinson doesn’t need words to convey the tension, grief and hope that underpin this piece. She is mesmerising to watch as, through simple movements and gestures, she visibly ages and regresses on stage, characterising the female trio to such an extent that you forget they are not all present. ‘The Mother’s Bones’ epitomises what Fringe theatre should be: a new experience that pushes the boundaries of both performer and audience. While undoubtedly a challenging piece, the reward is an enduringly beautiful and memorable performance.
METRO 5 stars
METRO -- 5 stars
Philip Radcliffe -- Manchester Evening News
Three Weeks -- 5 stars
Like a woman possessed, award-winning solo performer Kath Burlinson explores the cycle of motherhood in a tour-de-force of physical theatre.
It all starts quietly enough as, seated, still and barefooted, she stirs as if waking from a trance and utters some indecipherable words, like a medium communicating with the spirits. And the spirits of four generations of mothers, as well as babies stillborn and alive, are there in her subsequent movement around the space.
Conceived in a cave in France, The Mother’s Bones, premiered here pre-London, suits the black-walled cellar of the Pauper’s Pit underneath the Old Hall Hotel. The only prop is a child’s chair and some paper on the walls on which she scrawls childlike drawings. Mostly wordless and wild-eyed, aided by some apt music sound tracks, Burlinson captures extreme emotions from abandoned exhilaration to self-flagellating grief. It’s an unforgettable solo performance – scary and unnerving.
THE MOTHER'S BONES reviews