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World Premiere – Lovely Bones

Haunting, beautiful and funny, this is two hours of your evening VERY well spent. Maybe pack some tissues...

All photo credits: Sheila Burnett

It’s fantastic that Northampton gets to host World Premieres, and that’s just what Royal & Derngate did again, this time with Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, a hugely successful novel that I remember EVERYONE on the tube reading! Considering it centres around the rape and murder of a 14 year old girl, this haunting, coming-of-age tale captured the hearts of readers throughout the world when it was first published in 2002, and it feels just as relevant today. It’s a story about life after loss, hence it’s relatability, and the stage version is the third way we’ve been told the tale (the film version featured an all-star cast including Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci and the super talented Saoirse Ronan). The play is part of the theatre’s hugely successful Made in Northampton season and I managed to get along last night after already hearing lots of good things!

The Lovely Bones tells the story of young Susie Salmon, who is just like any other 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. Susie can only observe while her family cope with their grief in their different ways and you’ll be rooting for her throughout as she desperately tries to find a way of reaching them (I loved the supernatural element, which was handled brilliantly through both the acting and production).

Charlotte Beaumont plays Susie, and OMG, what an actress! Well known for her role as Chloe Latimer in TV series Broadchurch, she is phenomenal (no mean feat when people are comparing you to Saoirse Ronan). She brings a lightness and levity to the role that I didn’t think possible, making it much less bleak than you would imagine. To be fair, the whole cast were superb (check them out here), I believed every single one of them, which must be hard in the curtain call for Keith Dunphy, playing the rapist and murderer (I did notice that he’d taken his glasses of for the bow and looked very grateful to the crowd, possibly because they hadn’t lynched him)!

It was a talented bunch behind the scenes too! Adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery, you know you’re in good hands as his acclaimed work includes the Tony Award-nominated Frozen (revived in the West End this spring). And bringing the whole thing to life is director Melly Still, whose credits include the acclaimed Olivier and Tony Award-nominated production of Coram Boy (National Theatre and Broadway).

There’s a lot of multi-roling (where the actors play more than one character) and minimal set, but mirrors and props are used super effectively. I took my 13 year old daughter and she thought it was brilliant. Not only did she relate to all of the characters, but it reignited her passion to possibly work in the theatre when she is older (that’s how good they all were). Set in the ’70s, and me being a child of the ’70s, I adored the costumes and music, but it’s the performances that really set the stage alight! A co-production with Birmingham Repertory Company and Northern Stage and in association with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, it’s on at The Royal & Derngate until Saturday 22 September (before nipping off to Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham and Ipswich).

If you’re a fan of a brilliant story and poignant, on-point performances, get your tickets now. Be sure to take someone along so you can both talk about it for hours afterwards; because you’ll definitely want to!

Tickets – priced from £12.50* – can be booked by calling Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at www.royalandderngate.co.uk.

 

 

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