Review - The Lovely Bones at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton
After my complaints about a stage being too static, here comes a rich, visually stunning piece which is absolutely breath taking to watch
The world premiere of The Lovely Bones, based on the novel of the same name by Alice Sebold, sees a 14-year-old girl killed by a man in a tight knit community during 1970s America. But for the victim Susie, she can still see the aftermath, her mum's increasing isolation, her dad's desperation to find her killer, her sister growing up and how her killer continues to get away with it.
Be prepared for a shock, there is no warning, some bright beaming lights throw us straight into the action of Susie's murder. After that, we get a masterpiece of visuals. It's an old Victorian parlour trick but putting a mirror on an angle at the back of the stage reflected so the audience can see everything manages to look completely fresh and contemporary. It also opens the space up and makes the staging look a lot more 3D than it would have been. It is also right as it creates a dream like atmosphere of heaven without having to resort to expensive special effects.
There is also no interval yet you wouldn't know it from the way that the action and the acting leaves the audience absolutely gripped. I feel bad for picking people out of an ensemble cast for praise but Charlotte Beaumont, more or less unrecogniseable from her teenage Broadchurch role, is outstanding as Susie Salmon. Not leaving the stage for the entire time and carrying most of the action despite her isolation, it's a strong performance and incredibly believeable.
Much praise should go to Keith Dunphy's Mr Harvey who is incredibly creepy with a look to rival that of The Demon Headmaster. A lot of asked of the actors in the show. Portraying a 12 year time period and with many of them having to play at least two characters (if not more in many cases) and of vastly differing ages but given that you don't really find yourself questioning it while watching it says everything for the skill and dexterity of the ensemble cast.
I could go on, I really could. I could wax lyrical about the brilliance of this play for ages. But for me, I'd say it would be better to go and see it for yourselves. Genuinely superb.
The Lovely Bones can be seen at Northampton's Royal & Derngate until Saturday September 22. Tickets for the show can be booked by visiting www.royalandderngate.co.uk or call the box office on 01604 624811.