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Charlotte Beaumont on The Lovely Bones and why women should be less polite

The Broadchurch actor leads the cast of the stage adaptation

Charlotte Beaumont
(© Faye Thomas)

Charlotte Beaumont has appeared in all three seasons of ITV's Broadchurch as Chloe Latimer, with other screen credits including Death in Paradise and Skins. But she is no stranger to the stage either, with roles in 3 Winters at the National, Luke Barnes' No One Will Tell Me How To Start A Revolution at the Hampstead Theatre and Playhouse Creatures at Chichester Festival Theatre. She now leads the cast as Susie Salmon in the first stage version of Alice Sebold's novel The Lovely Bones, adapted by Bryony Lavery, which opens in Northampton before running in Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham and Ipswich.

I've read The Lovely Bones so many times I can basically quote it. The story is about a 14 year-old girl who is raped and killed and ends up stuck in an in-between heaven – she is torn between watching her family and helping catch the killer. But it's also about all the experiences she'll never get to have and trying to deal with that.

Susie Salmon is such a ballsy character. She loves to break the rules and is this positive, bright teenage girl, but she isn't quite dealing with her situation and has to go through her own cycle of grief. The way that Bryony has written her for the stage is brilliant.

The sound design is really vital for the show. As the play's quite abstract we use the sound to distinguish between earth and heaven – composer Dave Price and sound designer Helen Skiera have done some incredible work.

I've stayed well away from the film adaptation! Since our version is totally different I didn't want to end up copying Saoirse Ronan (who plays the role in the film) – I'm surprised I've been so restrained about it but mostly stuck to the book.

In rehearsals for The Lovely Bones
© Sheila Burnett

It's a hugely important play to be doing now. A big theme is the idea of consent and what sexuality means for a teenager and the repercussions when it's taken away. As a young woman, the thing that strikes me is that Susie is killed young because she's a polite girl. We're told every day as women that we need to be polite but in this show, it might be drastic to say, that gets her killed.

The creative duo of Melly Still and Bryony have been amazing. It's been great to work with a largely female creative and stage management team – things seem to be going in a great direction in terms of equal representation on stage and screen though there's obviously still a lot to do. I've been lucky to have people like that throughout my career – working with Anna Ledwich last year at the Hampstead for example.

I owe a lot of my success to Broadchurch but my agent first saw me when I was 12. I was doing a show at the Finborough Theatre and they took me on after that – I never went to drama school so having that foot in the door was vital.