The Lovely Bones

Date 28th October 2023
Society Wallasey Musical Theatre Company
Venue Mosslands School Wallasey
Type of Production Play
Director James Bennet
Stage Manager Helen Bennet
Light & Sound Tom Callan
Producer James Bennet

Report

Author: Joanne Rymer

The Lovely Bones

Wallasey Musical Theatre Company

28th October 2023

 

Those familiar with the 2002 novel "The Lovely Bones" will remember it as uniquely narrated by a teenage girl, Susie Salmon, based on a real-life murder in Pennsylvania. Alice Sebold, the author, was inspired by her own experience with sexual assault to write the story from the perspective of a murdered girl seeking justice. Breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing us from ‘in between’ where she says that she wants to be ‘unraped and unkilled’, to live the life her family and friends are still living. Susie wishes she were alive and is constantly pressing against the’ In between’, trying to break through to Earth. Susie is assisted by Franny (Millie Ricardi) an ‘in between’ chaperone who reminds her constantly that she is, in fact, dead.

WMTC staged this production at the Mosslands School, Wallasey. I congratulate the director James Bennett and stage crew for the set, very imaginative use of the restricted space. The additional rostra front of stage allowed for extra important acting space and movement. Most importantly the dramatic assault and rape scene with George Harvey (Stuart Raphel) down stage left was very well executed.

Jade Fazakerley is outstanding as the fourteen-year-old Susie, capturing the changing highs and lows typical of any teenager. We follow her as she shadows her family constantly trying to communicate that she was murdered by their neighbour George Harvey, who disposed of her body in the cornfield. She is frustrated that the police are so incompetant in finding evidence against George Harvey.

Continually following Susie’s family and friends all of whom are grieving and moving on in different ways we see her father, Jack, (Jonathon Harvey) become consumed with solving his daughter's murder. Through his own intuition and Susie's s out of world influence, he is gradually convinced that the family's neighbour George Harvey is the killer. Well-conceived performance.  Susie’s mother Abigail Salmon (Erin Knowles) tries to grasp her loss through lashing out, igniting a shortsighted affair with Detective Len Fenerman, (Mathew Harvey) who is frustratingly ineffectual in finding Susie’s killer. The only piece of evidence being a bloody elbow.

I particularly enjoyed how shortly after her death, Susie spoke from ‘in between’ in sync with Lindsey (Courtney Watson), emphasising their sisterly love. Lovely scene. Directly before the interval the tension reached a climax when Lindsey entered her sister Susie’s murderer’s house to search for evidence and was seen and chased by Harvey. 

The way that the characters are shown to be moving on with their lives as Susie remains 'in between' is handled well, Ruth Conners (Cameron Aitken) Susie’s close friend and the last person to see her alive, gives a fine performance as she befriends Susies childhood sweetheart Ray Smith (Freddie Dale).they search for Susie on the coenfield.  Susie’s sister Lynsey falls in love with Sam (Daniel Willemsen) and planning to marry. At the centre of the action is George Harvey, who is portrayed by Stuart Raphel absolutely evil, slimy, meticulous and generally terrifying. A fine performance from a very talented actor. His reintroduction to his previous victims was really well executed, which inevitably ended in his heart attack. Harvey’s previous victims Kate Booth (Flora Hernandez) Brooke Forshaw (Wendy Richter) and Joycie Joy (Leah Fox). meet the 'in between' Susie letting her know Harvey is dead.

Whilst the subject matter is dark the play is often tenderly funny. Susie’s Grandma Lynn (Rhia Taylor) is hilarious, supporting the youngest Salmon child Buckley (Clarke Amson) not to forget Holiday, the family dog (Florance Rylance) offers physical comedy and moments of humour. Good support performances from Sarah May Maylor (Mrs Flanagan) Robyn Van Ecker (Ruana Smith) Richard Orr (Principal Cadence) Jess Casey (Young Susie & Girl)

I can’t fault the acting. This cast of talented actors all gave their all to this production. The Lovely Bones is emotional, dark, uplifting and heart-warming all at once. It is also a huge challenge for any society to perform forty-four individual scenes in what is fundamentally a school hall. Praise to the director, James Bennet, his assistant Helen Bennet and sound and lighting Tom Callan. They worked a miracle to get this quality of performance on stage, with lighting issues well beyond your control.

Congratulations WMTC for a truly entertaining evening. As always, it is the audience reation that counts and this audience at Mosslands loved it. Thank you for inviting me, it was splendid.

Joanne Rymer

NODA

District 4.