REVIEW: The Lovely Bones (Birmingham Repertory) | theatre

The stage at the beginning of the play before various elements were added - it shows a scene that looks like a cornfield, with a chair in front. The stage is mostly blue, and there is smoke coming from either side
The stage at the beginning of the play before various elements were added – it shows a scene that looks like a cornfield, with a chair in front.

This play has significant trigger warnings for rape and murder, and are therefore mentioned in this review.

Just like when we went to see Amélie, I took my mum to see another play that we had little to no knowledge of. My mum has been meaning to read it for a long time, but we went in only armed with little summary on the website. And I’m so glad we did!

Firstly, we haven’t been to The Rep since the refurbishment a few years back, and it’s such a lovely theatre! It’s very accessible and it isn’t as intimidating as some theatres can be. It also had the best theatre ice cream I’ve had, so if that isn’t a pull to it, I don’t know what is. There’s a few plays on in the next few months that I’d really like to see there, so I’ll definitely be back soon. One thing I’d like to highlight about this particular play is that it does have some very intense strobe lights and the openings of each act are very sudden and loud, so be aware of those things if they would be issues for you.

The Lovely Bones is set in Pennsylvania in the 70s/80s, and in heaven. Susie Salmon is fourteen and is on her way home from school when an old man (Mr Harvey, played by Nicholas Khan) rapes and murders her. She is taken to heaven, where she has a support worker (Franny, played by Avita Jay) and she spends the duration of the play watching her family and friends attempt to get on with their lives without her, as well as her watching the further actions of her murderer.

I loved the set for this show so much. The set design is instrumental to this show in making the division between life on earth and heaven seamless on the stage. When she reaches heaven, Franny places down a boundary and throughout the play Susie tries to leave to no avail. Those on earth mostly stay outside of this boundary, but also move across it showing the freedom that they still have in comparison. Other elements of the set design are that the scene is mirrored onto the wall of the stage and there is a raised part at the back which often showed the characters silently doing something else whilst there was more action on the stage. This really added to the effect of the story especially when it showed the actions of Mr Harvey.

This is a show that uses several of the actors for the two or more parts but we honestly didn’t properly notice that until we were reading the programme afterwards – it’s very subtle and costuming and hair and make-up done so well that you are less likely to notice this throughout. A particular example of this was Leigh Lothian, who played Ruth and Buckley; I genuinely didn’t realise there were the same person because I was so invested in the story and it was done so well. This is a cast that are extremely versatile and truly talented.

A particular talent in the cast is is Fanta Barrie, who plays Lindsey. Her acting was so convincing and she showed so much emotion throughout that I just found her to be such a standout member of the cast; I could feel her pain and love and anger. And naturally, how can I not mention Charlotte Beaumont who played Susie – having to be on the stage for almost all of the play, she shows so much raw emotion the it is just beautiful to watch particularly showing a denial to acceptance of her own death. It is poignant and beautiful in the saddest way.

Overall we really love this show. The themes of it are so important to discuss in this time period, even though it was original set in the 70s and 80s. it is beautiful, it has a great soundtrack and I would honestly say that if you can get to a performance of this you should. I will definitely be reading the book and watching the film in the next few months to see how they compare. I adored almost every minute of the show – every aspect of it works together to create the most beautiful play. An easy 5/5 for me.

The Lovely Bones is on tour around the country, so if you’d like to see it near you, find out where it going here.

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