I always remember the first time I read The Lovely Bones and Lucky by Alice Sebold and how I was immediately captured by Alice’s words and her powerful narrative. When I heard that this bestselling novel was heading to the stage for the first time, I knew I had to see it.
The Lovely Bones was first published in 2002 by American writer Alice Sebold and quickly became an internationally bestselling novel. It was the most successful debut novel since Gone With The Wind and is still gripping readers today. The novel inspired the 2009 film which was directed by Peter Jackson and starred Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci. The novel has been adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery and is directed by Melly Still.
Set in 1973 – 1985, Pennsylvania, the story tells of Susie Salmon, a fourteen year old girl who is brutally raped and murdered by a serial killer. Susie narrates her story from heaven as she watches her family come to terms with their grief on Earth.
Designer Ana Inés Jabares-Pita and Director Melly Still have created a spectacular, immersive experience. A large mirror hangs above the back of the stage, offering the audience another perspective to the story as it unfolds in heaven and on earth. A chalk square on the floor centre stage confines Susie to her heaven, as we watch her struggle to adapt to her new surroundings. Bryony Lavery had the difficult job of condensing a complicated narrative into a 1 hour and 40 minute production. The set design and movement of this production is innovative and at times frantic, coinciding with the fast paced narrative of this stage adaptation.
Charlotte Beaumont is a revelation as Susie Salmon. She captures the innocent essence of a fourteen year old girl grappling with her confusion and pain as she watches her family and killer continue life on earth. She delves into the soul of a fourteen year old girl, portraying not only humour but tempestuous teenage tantrums, providing the audience with some light relief from the dark material. Karan Gill, Ray Singh – Susie’s love interest, gave a sensitive gentle performance and had wonderful chemistry with Charlotte.
Jack Sandle as Jack Salmon captured the intense anger and pain of a father desperate to find the killer of his daughter. Emily Bevan as Abigail Salmon, Susie’s mother, conveyed the isolation and hopelessness of a mother struggling with her grief. Ayoola Smart as Susie’s sister Lindsey Salmon, gave a performance of hope as she refuses to give up on her sister’s memory.
Keith Dunphy had the difficult part of playing Mr Harvey, Susie’s killer. Dunphy’s performance sent chills down my spine as his silent movements and calm, gentle demeanour became a constant reminder of the evil that lurks in the world.
This is a powerful, strong and inventive production. The entire cast work like a machine together, fluid in movement as they recreate this unforgettable story.
We say: “This is a powerful, strong and inventive production which successfully recreates the seamless worlds of heaven and earth. The entire cast work like a machine together, fluid in movement as they recreate this unforgettable story.”