Alice Seabold’s best selling book, The Lovely Bones, is given an extra-ordinary stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery and is directed for this tour by Melly Still. Lavery’s other theatrical journey into the world of serial killers and their young girl victims, the small cast play, Frozen, centres on the mind and actions of Ralph the killer, the grieving mother and an American psychologist. The ten year old victim, Rhona, is not seen on stage but filtrates the minds of the audience.
In The Lovely Bones we are given a different perspective as the raped and murdered Susie (Charlotte Beaumont) is very much seen through the whole play even though she is in heaven. Susie discovers that her heavenly state is initially confusing and restrictive as she appears to be confined to a square area. As the play progresses she is taught that she is able to interact not only in her spirit world but also gains some influence with those remaining on earth. She starts on a fascinating quest to get her killer Harvey (Nicholas Khan) arrested and convicted of not only her murder but the murder of other young girls. Beaumont and Khan are superbly convincing in their main roles with Beaumont giving teenager Susie a real on stage life as she battles with her frustrations when it seems that Harvey is going to get away with her murder.
The piece is very multi-layered and highly theatrical in its depictions of the people on earth and those in between, all trying to piece together this brilliantly clever jigsaw of a rape and murder story and the aftermath. Ana Ines Jabares Pita’s stunning mirrored set allows the audience’s imagination full scope as we are taken pell mell through The Lovely Bones. We get a unique theatrical perspective of seeing unfolding and retrospective events colliding on stage and the audience is gripped from dramatic beginning to the very unexpected end.
The thirteen strong terrific cast play a great mix of parts including dogs and are completely engaging. Jack Sandle and Catrin Aaron as Susie’s distraught parents Jack and Abigail Salmon give this production a grounded realism and the stage version doesn’t shy away from some sexual content in the second half. For such a serious subject there is a fair smattering of humour in Lavery’s fine adaptation and if you have never read the book or seen the film this excellently staged version will still have strong appeal.
The Lovely Bones runs at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 28th September.
Originally written for Nottingham Post.
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