I CAN say with confidence that you do not need to have read Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel to be able to enjoy this beautifully-crafted production. I haven’t, and yet have rarely known time slip by so quickly in the theatre, so absorbing is this tale and its inventive retelling.

Bryony Lavery’s adaptation and Melly Still’s direction lead us effortlessly through time and place as the central story of a murdered child unfolds. This is not a spoiler, but something we are told at the very outset because it is something we have to know.

On one level this is a crime story, but on another it is about the impact a murder has on family and community. It is about grief and love, and about the passing of time, there is also a thread of humour running through.

Charlotte Beaumont captures the essence of wide eyed innocence as the teenage victim, Susie Salmon, while Keith Dunphy invests a frightening level of creepiness into Mr Harvey. But it is the overall strength of the acting ensemble that above all serves this production so well.

The deceptively simple design by Ana Inés Jabares-Pita – enhanced by the lighting of Matt Haskins – confronts us with an enormous angled mirror that both reflects and inverts the action, as well as creating some wonderfully surreal images. This does not feel like a novel simply adapted for the stage, but a story that has found its proper home.

n Until October 20. 0191-230-5151 ornorthernstage.co.uk

Laurence Sach