How do you show a character caught between heaven and earth?
Susie Salmon has come unstuck in life; her brutal rape, murder and subsequent dismemberment the shocking opening to this startlingly-realised take on one of the best-selling novels of the 21st century.
Adapted by Bryony Lavery and directed by Melly Still, the (not) beating heart of the production is a mesmerising turn by Charlotte Beaumont as Susie; a true-to-life teen wild-eyed with wonder and remarkably upbeat considering the purgatorial predicament she finds herself in, Beaumont shines as we discover alongside her the connections between people that happen because of – and despite – death and absence.
moments of connection, conflict and luminous wonder
Absence felt by the characters, but not by us, witness as we are to everything that plays out from two perspectives; that of the living, viewing the drama square-on, and that of the dead, granted a god’s eye view.
An astoundingly simple stage trick (played out on a grand scale) that it would be rum to spoil here in print sees this striking illusion hold firm for the whole production, the strong cast illuminated in the moments of connection, conflict and luminous wonder inherent in this dark yet uplifting tale.
How do you show a character caught between heaven and earth? You put the audience right there with them, bearing witness to the lovely bones that grow around their absence.
Leigh Venus at Northern Stage, 9 October 2018
Originally published at Narc Magazine Online
Photos: Sheila Burnett