“My name is Salmon, like the fish, first name Susie, I was 14 years old when I was murdered on December 6th 1973, I was here for a moment and then I was gone”….
This is how it goes, this is a heart wrenching story, loosely based on real events in Pennsylvania, USA during the 1970’s, narrated by Susie Salmon who was abducted, raped and murdered by a serial killer. As a consequence, her soul indefinitely remains in purgatory and refuses to move on and find peace as she goes through the angst and pain of a beautiful young life cut brutally short. From beyond her grave, she tries to cajole her grieving family to cope with the loss of her death, and to subliminally point them in the direction of the murderer and the events that led up to her killing. Susie watches over her family from the afterlife and the events that unfold in their lives as an aftermath of her death. The grief-stricken father who becomes obsessed with finding her killer and the mother who is unable to process her loss and becomes detached from the family.
I have to admit that when I first came across Peter Jackson’s film version of The Lovely Bones, back in 2009, I found it so disturbing that I nearly didn’t finish watching it. What compelled me to keep watching was Peter Jackson’s mesmerizingly ethereal visuals, Stanley Tucci’s perfect portrayal of the antagonist, George Harvey and Saoirse Ronan’s heartbreaking portrayal of a little girl’s life cut short by a brutal murder. New Theatre’s version of the book by Alice Sebold which was adapted for stage by Bryony Lavery was lacking on some counts.
It is always a challenge to adapt a story like this for stage, especially on a smaller scale, the story relies so heavily on visual imagery that it somehow loses its essence when adapted for stage, especially if it is staged in a minimalistic space. The duration of the play seemed way too long, especially the first half. The direction, particularly the movement and scene duration could’ve been sharper, the urgency and angst that the story dictates was somewhat lacking.
The cast worked well together, the stand-out performances came from Brendan McBride as Detective Len Fenerman and Naomi Belet as the grieving sister, Lindsay Salmon. Performances by Sean Taylor and Sarah Mcguire as George Harvey and Susie Salmon could’ve been more impactful. The monochrome set design by Robyn Arthur worked well with the beautiful lighting design by Michael Schell.
Congrats go the team for mounting a show despite the challenges and trials of pulling a production off during the lockdown. We look forward to seeing more interesting & poignant works from New Theatre.
THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold. Adapted by Bryony Lavery Directed by: Deborah Mulhall
Assistant Director: Dimity Raftos | Costume: Andrea Tan
Lighting Designer: Michael Schell | Sound Designer: Sam Barnett | Set: Robyn Arthur.
Photo: Bob Seary
THE LOVELY BONES at The New Theatre | 23 NOV – 18 DEC | Event Link:
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