Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Lovely Bones -review- Northern Stage

The Lovely Bones
Northern Stage
Tuesday 9th October 2018


It was with much eagerness that I arrived at the theatre to watch this play being amongst the many who enjoyed reading the globally best-selling novel by Alice Sebold in 2002.

The Lovely Bones is about the coming of age of a 14 year old girl Susie Salmon, but not typically told in that we find from the start that she is dead after having been raped and murdered by her neighbour the predatory Mr Harvey. I'm not giving the plot away by saying this for those who haven't read the book or seen the film version. We know this from the beginning, it's not a who dunnit in any way. The story is about Susie who is in heaven, and how she reacts to her new environment whilst watching her family from above, how they and she cope through the aftermath of her initial disappearance and continue their lives.

Susie’s main primary focus is for her disappearance to be solved, for her body and her murderer to be found. As the investigation begins we see her frustration as her belongings and clues are gradually discovered, and suspicions are raised but without any concrete evidence. She finds a way for her presence to be felt by certain family members and friends. They feel her around them and through this she leads them to more clues as to the horrific crime and to where it happened.

Whilst the subject is certainly one of a dark nature and the story is one of pain and loss it is told beautifully with poignancy and sadness but it captures hope love acceptance and includes comedy in places too. There are many elements to the story as the days and years pass, where we see the family members coping in their own way to life after and how Susie responds to this watching over from heaven.

I was very interested to see how this production transferred from book to stage and I think it showed that both the adapter (Bryony Lavery) and director (Melly Still) had worked with the books author during production. The essence of the story was captured very well through this interpretation.

Susie Salmon (Charlotte Beaumont) led the way and give it her all, commanding the stage throughout her journey and the killer Mr Harvey (Keith Dunphy) gave a very sinister and creepy performance.

The set was beautifully displayed and detailed and the reflection via use of a huge mirror above (which looked to be the size of the stage) give an unusual ethereal feel to great effect. The cast taking parts of family members, friends boyfriends and police (some playing more than one part) enhanced the visual treat on stage, there was so much to see at any given time. The costumes were very well chosen depicting the style of America in the 70’s where the book was set.

Both the singing on stage and the music played during the show was a delight - from Talking Heads, Tears for Fears and  David Bowie. There were very loud bangs, shouting and great use of lighting...all senses awakened in this show.

I was very grateful, especially about the loud noises and music too because it helped to drown out the persistent rustling behind me as someone worked their way through what I imagine to be a big bag of boiled sweets in their wrappers, something I feel is rude during a live performance.

The show lasts an hour and 45 minutes and did captivate me throughout including what became of Mr Harvey. It was to a full audience that it was performed last night who showed their appreciation at the end with a long and loud applause

You can see it at Northern Stage until Saturday 20th October 2018

Belinda Bekki-Winter

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