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The Lovely Bones

BOOM - bright flashing lights, screams and a sea of writhing body parts. Crikey that got my attention. Don't miss this brilliantly clever stage adaptation.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was a chilling read, the film – a clever interpretation, which left me wondering how on earth this multi level story would adapt to the stage?

If you don’t know the story, it’s a tragic tale set in the 1970’s of fourteen year old Susie Salmon who watches her family from heaven after she’s raped and murdered by a serial killer.

Bryony Lavery has adapted the book to stage brilliantly, seamlessly layering the different time frames and worldly dimensions as we watch a family try to rebuild their lives after evil.

Heaven is defined by a square of salt and it’s within these confines that Susie (played by the very talented Charlotte Beaumont) weaves between her pre and post death experiences. Invisible, she is still a child ignored, watching her friends and family growing up and changing, while she’s stuck in her own version of heaven (hell) desperately trying to get them to find her killer.

Thankfully there are some moments of teenage humour/frustration. I loved the injection of 70’s tunes, the backdrop to sister Lindsey’s (Fanta Barrie) adolescent experiences and a reminder of the life the sisters should be sharing. Talking of seventies, so many great details but my favourite throwbacks – the pink Kickers and a Kodak pocket Instamatic!

Incredibly impressive stage design and lighting c/o Ana Inés Jabares-Pita and Matt Haskins. The tilted floor to ceiling mirrored background offers us Susie’s heavenly perspective and unique platform to view simultaneous scences. Throw in an ethereal wobble, Susie’s echoed voice and a glass of wine – I felt slightly out of body myself.

A sutble lighting change and a secondary scene appears behind the mirror, to reveal a mini neighbourhood, a candlelit memorial, a slightly strange love scene and creepy serial killer Mr Harvey (Nicholas Khan) painting a doll’s house.

There were some clever yet simple interpretations of key events. I loved the scene when Susie’s grief stricken father (Jack Sandle) angrily smashes a snow globe and the cast brandish shards of broken glass. In a moment of light – Susie’s doggie heaven (all played by humans) was funny and warming.

In the second half we get to meet the other victims which is subtly done with the actors, like puppeteers, projecting their arms through the dresses of the murdered. Face and body less – it was all quite unsettling.

A small cast of 13, many playing two roles – there wasn’t one missing link – even the poor man who woofed is way through production as family dog Holiday (Samuel Gosrani) was awesome.

If you liked the book, I’d urge you to see this emotional and uplifting theatrical tour de force!

Book tickets: £10 – £33.50 on until Saturday 12th October

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