Lovely bones review

A guest blog review by Honestly Helen

I’ll be the first to confess that I’m not a big reader and if there’s an opportunity to watch the film over reading the book I will always choose the former. When I was invited to watch The Lovely Bones at the beautiful Northern Stage, I asked my bookworm companion (who has read the book and seen the film) whether I should do either (Or both), she suggested not; but go in completely blind and be as wowed by the story as she was when she read the book.

The Lovely Bones, the bestselling book by Alice Sebold, has been adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery and has a stellar cast of some of the UK’s finest stage and screen actors – most notably Broadchurch star Charlotte Beaumont, who is phenomenal as lead protagonist Susie Salmon.

‘Susie Salmon is just like any other young girl. She wants to be beautiful, adores her charm bracelet and has a crush on a boy from school. There’s one big difference though – Susie is dead.

Now she can only observe while her family manage their grief in their different ways. Her father, Jack is obsessed with identifying the killer. Her mother, Abigail is desperate to create a different life for herself. And her sister, Lindsay is discovering the opposite sex with experiences that Susie will never know. Susie is desperate to help them and there might be a way of reaching them…’

I don’t go to the theatre often, which is surprising as I was a former stage child myself, but knowing that this story had also been adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster had me excited. The cast, the music and the set design were all magnificent. The cast in particular were absolutely faultless, with no fluffed lines or breaking character whatsoever. Despite the small stage, the space was used really well to create different locations and transitioning between scenes was flawless.

For me though, I found it all a bit clunky and, dare I say it, weird in places and despite my initial excitement was left feeling a little underwhelmed. There were scenes that were all a bit too trippy for me (and I know it’s set in the 1970s, so that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise) but there were a few scenes that to me just didn’t make sense. I found the fact that a few of the actors played multiple characters confusing, I’m not sure if this is a regular thing among modern theatre productions, but it just didn’t work for me.

My companion commented afterwards that there was a lack of atmosphere throughout the production, especially in a particular scene where (without giving anything away) in the book it was extremely tense and edge of your seat reading, but didn’t translate well on stage at all and she asked me whether at any point I felt on edge. My honest answer was no.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it and if you’ve read the book, I would recommend you see it as a comparison piece.  I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to – I wasn’t wowed like many people said I would be. Perhaps I’m being too harsh, or perhaps I’m not the most qualified person to comment on theatre, since I don’t go all that regularly however my theatre loving compadre walked out with the same opinion as me, so perhaps I’m less uncouth than I give myself credit for.

For me, a show should be all inclusive and something anyone who enjoys story telling can appreciate. Maybe I should have read the book first after all?

 

Lovely bones is on at the Northern Stage from October 9th until 20th https://www.northernstage.co.uk/Event/the-lovely-bones