The Lovely Bones at Chichester Festival Theatre REVIEW: 'Charlotte Beaumont masterfully holds everything together'

The Lovely Bones is on now at Chichester Festival Theatre. Picture by Pamela Raith
The Lovely Bones is on now at Chichester Festival Theatre. Picture by Pamela Raith
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Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones is an exquisitely moving and globally popular novel – one I remember reading in one sitting as a teenager.

It was later adapted into a film and now, insightfully directed by Melly Still, the unique coming-of-age tale has been transformed by Bryony Lavery into an onstage sensory masterpiece.

It tells the story of Susie Salmon (Charlotte Beaumont), who’s just like any teenage girl but with one big difference – Susie is dead.

She is murdered by a neighbour, Mr Harvey (Nicholas Khan), and watches the aftermath of her death unravel from heaven, tormented by her inability to intervene and guide those left behind to her killer.

We observe as her family manages their grief. Her dad (Jack Sandle) becomes obsessed with catching the perpetrator. Her mum (Catrin Aaron) is distracting herself from her grief and questioning her own existence. Her sister Lindsey (Fanta Barrie) is navigating her way through adolescence and the experiences Susie will never have.

We watch as the case unfolds, sharing Susie’s frustration and heartache and laughing with her as she uses humour to manage her isolation and futility.

The piece is sensitively and dynamically performed throughout, with the actors working in perfect harmony. Beaumont masterfully holds everything together and plays Susie’s tragedy with such truth.

Credit must also be given to the actors performing multiple roles; the transitions between the characters are seamless, you would hardly notice it is the same actor on stage.

The movement is beautifully choreographed to depict moments of horror and intimacy and the set and dramatic use of lighting is awe-inspiring – it needs to be experienced to be appreciated.

The production is tied together by a soundtrack combining’ 70s classics with original music to create a truly gut-wrenching and uplifting theatrical experience.

Until November 30.