The Lovely Bones is dazzling audiences with its extraordinary staging and clever representation of the plotline. Charlotte Beaumont (acting as Susie Salmon) brought Alice Sebold’s debut novel to life, taking the audience through her brutal murder. The story followed the young girl’s eyes as she watched her family from her own heaven, bearing witness to the ways in which they coped with her death, and the eventual optimism that returns to the lives of those affected.
Sebold’s novel was released in 2002 to critical acclaim and commercial success. It is a certified contemporary classic with 5 million copies sold. At the Norwich Theatre Royal, and in other theatres throughout the UK, it is adapted to stage with no loss in its representation of raw emotion. In Norwich, the show is running from Monday the 7th of October to Saturday the 12th of October.
The Lovely Bones, adapted by Bryony Lavery and directed by Melly Still does extremely well to tackle the more difficult elements on Sebold’s novel and transition them to a stage setting. Particularly Susie’s strange presence between life and death would be an example of the difficulties of translation, but it is represented perfectly through the use of constant changes in lighting, changes in backing music, and choreography of the performers. The most visually impressive part of the performance was the use of the partially transparent mirror and platform suspended above the stage, which, in addition to providing the audience with an alternative angle to view the play’s action from, allowed for the placement of certain actors away from the action to remind the audience of their presence. Nicholas Khan’s (acting as Mr Harvey) presence on the platform, and the placement of his house, is particularly impactful, he appeared as ghostlike, haunting both Susie and the audience.
A highlight of the play was Charlotte Beaumont’s incredible portrayal of Susie Salmon, which was filled with such undeniable strength and vulnerability, conveyed through her voice and dance sequences. She begs she laughs, she cries, she sings, and she screams- every extreme of human emotion is represented through her performance. Susie’s parents, Abigail and Jack, portrayed by Catrin Aaron and Jack Sandle, also provide an intensity, with their questionable morals- particularly on Abigail’s part- being the focus of much of the play’s length. Their relationship shifts dramatically throughout due to Jack’s obsession with finding Susie’s murderer, and in some way he plays the part of the audience- who are helpless to prevent or solve the crimes against Susie despite knowing the truth.
The cast was brilliant and often filled multiple roles. Leigh Lothian is an example of a cast member who delivered an extremely talented and versatile performance. From having to play the troubled Ruth, to the innocent Buckley, her acting abilities shone through, particularly in some of the musical elements of the production.
Audience members were on the edge of their seats as the dynamic show continued to wow through its fantastical elements. Everyone a part of the show deserves a massive clap as the effort and hard work gone into the show is almost incomprehensible.
If you only see one show this year, see The Lovely Bones. The amount of talent in the production is mind-blowing, and the only word to describe the show is ‘sensational’.