Supernatural thriller The Lovely Bones is a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking tale of loss and longing.

The story of murdered, 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who watches over her grief-stricken family from above, was a huge hit for author Alice Sebold, while Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning film, starring Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz and Stanley Tucci, was a box office smash.

On Monday, a stage show based on the poignant coming-of-age tale comes to the Oxford Playhouse. The show, which reveals how Susie tries to help her family in their different reactions to her death, is a powerful and uplifting theatrical experience set to a1970s soundtrack.

And among the talented cast is a face which may be familiar to Oxford audiences –former Oxford teacher, musician and actor Radhika Aggarwal, who previously taught maths at St Gregory the Great School in Cricket Road.

“This is an incredible production to be a part of,” says Radhika, who read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Magdalen College, is a former swing band conductor, played with Oxford’s Sol Samba band, and cut her teeth on stage with the Oxford Revue.

“The attention to detail with every element of the storytelling blows me away.

“The set, sound design, lighting, movement have been combined so beautifully, which is typical of director Melly Still.”


Radhika’s early teaching career also saw her taking up placements at Lord Williams’s School in Thame, Cherwell School in Summertown, and Bicester Community College.

Her acting career, which began after she left St Greg’s 10 years ago, has led to appearances in television shows Casualty, New Tricks; the film The Children Act; Phillip Glass’s opera Satyagraha, and in her own one woman show An Arrangement of Shoes. She also plays with post-punk band Extradition Order.

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She goes on: “Working alongside such a fantastic ensemble is a huge privilege.

“There are times when I get to watch the others from the wings and I have to pinch myself that I’m part of this too. They give me goose bumps.”

She says appearing at the Beaumont Street venue is a dream come true.

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“While a student at Oxford, I had always wanted to perform at The Playhouse,” she says. “I saw so many excellent shows there so it is amazing to get to come back, to the place I called home, and do it

“It is also very exciting that lots of friends, former colleagues, former tutors and even students will be there to support and enjoy the show.”


She admits to looking back fondly on her years of teaching in Oxford.

“Being part of that team was amazing and I still see so many of them now,” she says. “It was a brilliant environment to cut my teeth as a teacher.”

She goes on: “Leaving a permanent job that I loved, in a city I loved, in the middle of a recession, is definitely one of my bolder life choices. However, it was the right thing to do.

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“The school was in a good place having got a good Ofsted report. And I was ready for my next challenge.

“I thrive a bit on uncertainty and have enjoyed the rollercoaster of trying to make it work in an ever tricky industry.”

Still a lover of maths, she keeps her hand in by writing and developing problem solving STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) resources, working with comprehensive schools that have struggled for whatever reason.


She says: “For me the main point is that every student can do it. The challenge is to build confidence and enjoyment so that students feel like they want to have a go. Once they give themselves permission, anything is possible.”

The show’s movement director Mike Ashcroft is also from Oxford along with Huw Parmenter, who plays play Len Fenerman and Samuel Heckler.

He said: “ I love visiting when I can and look forward to showing my cast mates my favourite parts of the city.”

Huw talks to us in next week’s Oxford Times

  • The Lovely Bones comes to Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, from November 11-16.
  • Tickets start at £10 from the ticket office on 01865 305305 or online at