bones set

Nicholas Khan as Harvey and Charlotte Beaumont and Susie. Picture: Pamela Raith

The Lovely Bones

Birmingham Repertory Theatre


The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, with adaptation by Bryony Lavery, is the intriguing story of a family torn apart by a heinous tragedy with unbelievably difficult revelations and the resulting consequences.

The action takes place in Pennsylvania between the years of 1973 to 1985, and, in heaven . . .

The play begins with 14-year-old Susie walking home from school. Along the way she encounters Harvey, a character of dubious appearance whose sinister motives are cleverly hidden behind a charming facade of lies, promises and eventual entrapment.

The naive teenager is lured into his evil web of deceit, and helpless to escape, she is cruelly raped, then murdered.

To be confronted with the disappearance of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare and the eventual shattering news that Susie is dead throws the distraught family into a destructive spiral of situations as they try to come to terms with their tragic loss.

The complexities of the family’s individual strategies to find ways of coping, the search for clues surrounding the murder, the confrontations within relationships all add to the many facets of this inexplicable crime and the investigations to find the killer.

This is only a small condensed version of the plays synopsis as there are so many fascinating twists and surprises within the story that one feels it would be a huge spoiler to elaborate further. (Especially if you are planning to see the production)

At times, the emotional distress is powerful in its rawness, but there are some carefully crafted moments of lightness and humour, adding balance to the underlying gravity of the storyline.

Some great music too, including tracks from Stylistics, Talking Heads, David Bowie and Janice Joplin.

The setting and creative innovations in this production are utterly astonishing, especially the use of the reflective screen focusing the action in a two dimensional frame. This gives the whole performance an ethereal quality, adding depth, space and visual impact.

Throughout, Susie is in heaven looking down on the action, trying to communicate with her family and friends, frustrated that her voice is unheard. But she is not alone as other ‘victims’ join her. Particularly credit to director of puppetry, Sarah Marcel for these sequences.

Although the subject matter is a truly shocking event, the sensitivity with which the actors portray the characters is perfection, a masterclass in acting technique from the whole cast and the technical team.

The play originated from the book and then film to its inception on to live stage and is condensed perfectly, without distracting from the poignant moments, the tension, the emotive content or the harsh realities of life and its challenges.

Charlotte Beaumont as the sulking, questioning, demanding, impulsive Susie was the epitome of a temper tantrum fuelled teenager, bouncing around, and at times dancing her way through this demanding role, addressing difficult issues with measured consideration.

Cast included, Nicholas Khan as Harvey , Catrin Aaron as Abigail, Jack Sandal as Jack and Fanta Barrie as Lindsey.

Thoroughly recommended for a superb evening of truly breathtaking theatre.

Directed by Melly Still it runs to 21-09-19

Elizabeth M Smith and Rosemary Manjunath.


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