Theatre reviews: The Lovely Bones, Eastern Star and The Prisoner

The Lovely Bones – Royal & Derngate Northampton unti September 22 then touring until November 17. Tickets: 01604 624811 /

When Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones was published in 2002, it was described as “the book of the decade”.

So no pressure on Bryony Lavery in dramatising it for the stage.

Told entirely from the celestial vantage point of Pennsylvania teenager Susie Salmon who has been raped, killed and dismembered, it is a moving and uplifting account of her attempts to guide her family to her murderer while watching in envy as their lives continue without her.

Director Melly Still handles the distilled narrative with great skill, assisted by Ana Inés Jabares-Pita’s stunning set design.

A huge angled mirror above the stage reflects the action beneath, suggesting a heavenly dimension, and figures emerge out of darkness at the rear of the stage.

As Susie (Charlotte Beaumont) mingles unseen and unheard with the living, she fills in the details of her story with the lively observation of a child, often perplexed by the behaviour of her parents and siblings.

And when asked by her heavenly chaperone (Bhawna Bhawsar) what she wants, Susie replies: “I want to be unraped and unkilled.”

The sense of mystery and a parallel realm is conveyed by a square of salt laid out at the start, a boundary through which ghosts cannot pass.

The killer’s other victims are represented by little dresses animated by the cast in a scene that is both moving and horrifying.

But if it all sounds relentlessly grim, I assure you that it is not. The sense of life, even after death, pervades the play like perfume.

There are humorous sequences threaded through like family dog Holiday leading a dance of local dogs, played by the cast, in search of Susie’s body.

There is lovely work from a superb cast including Emily Bevan as Susie’s troubled mother, Jack Sandle as her obsessive father and Ayoola Smart as her sister.

The ending is as satisfying and moving as it is unexpected. Prepare to be amazed.

Eastern Star ****Tara Theatre until September 29. Tickets: 020 8333 4457

When BBC cub reporter Christopher Gunness was sent to Burma (now Myanmar) to investigate the military junta, he unwittingly helped kickstart the student revolution of 1988.

Lawyer U Nay Min (David Yip) was chief architect of the revolution which was fuelled by the information and misinformation which he fed to Gunness.

However, when the protests were quashed by the military, Nay Min spent 16 years in prison while Gunness (Michael Lumsden) went on to a career in the United Nations. Guy Slater’s play details their fraught meeting decades later as old wounds reopen and bleed all over the stage.

Yip and Lumsden are superb as they circle each other, drawing out a litany of betrayal and stupidity that wrecked one man’s life and propelled the other to success.

The play may lack dramatic heft but it offers an enlightening account of a period of history that opened the door for the rise of Aung San Suu Kyi.

It’s a small but well-formed play about Gunness’s guilt over his action – and inaction – concerning an issue of international import whose aftershocks are still being felt today.

The moral is: when in doubt, trust your conscience, not your government.

The Prisoner National Theatre until October 4. Tickets: 020 7452 3000

The Prisoner is a short, sparse and enigmatic parable from great British theatre director Peter Brook.

A man (Hiran Abeysekera) is condemned to 20 years of isolation on a hill to “repair” himself. His crime is patricide for which he has already suffered some form of punishment.

The small cast create their own sound effects and convey underwritten characters as well as they can. But the stripped-down style fails to achieve the dramatic escalation of Samuel Beckett’s dramas to which it assuredly aspires.

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Post Author: martin

Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of and Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

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