When my daughter said she had tickets to see The Lovely Bones at the Birmingham Rep. I was really excited. I remember reading the book, by Alice Sebold, years ago and it had remained with me for a long time. In fact, it turned out to be a very long time because it was much later that I realised I’d read it 16 years ago when my eldest daughter was the same age as the main character Suzie Salmon. Where does the time go?
That may have been why it had such an impact on me. Because Suzie Salmon is dead, killed by her neighbour at the very beginning of the play. I’m glad this part was not too detailed on the stage. The neighbour, Mr Harvey, was a really nasty character.
The focus of the story was not about the murder, but the aftermath on a family after the loss of a child. Suzie left behind her parents, her younger sister and brother and her beloved dog.
Suzie watches her family from her part in heaven and can’t do anything while they fall apart. She wants them to know where her body is and who killed her but it’s not possible. She has to learn to accept what she can and can’t do while watching her family fall apart without her.
It’s not for the feint hearted, and although I found the book more intimate and moving, the play did a real good job of making you feel all the emotions too.
I loved the stage. Apart from a few props it didn’t change much at all, but it was truly amazing. I too this sneaky photo to show you how plain it was. But see the background, its mirrored all the way. (You can even see the audience seats right at the top.) This enabled the producers to provide the magic they needed to create Suzie’s heaven amongst the goings on she could observe on Earth.
It was an incredible way of bringing it all together. There was also puppetry which could have easily have been played by actors but by using the puppets it put a completely different feel to the story.
This is Suzie’s story, told by her and the play helped to keep her as the main attraction despite everything else that was going on.
Here is a video I found about the making of the Play, it’s a short but interesting watch.
The Lovely Bones is not an easy story. It’s incredibly sad and involves triggers for child abuse, rape and murder. It’s also very tough on anyone experiencing any kind of grief.
But overall the message is a good one. Life goes on even when someone dies, and even if you fall apart it’s possible to pick up the pieces.
As for Suzie, she continues to live in her heaven, forever 14 years old. She can’t be part of her earthly family but learns to accept that as she watches them get on with their life.