The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“Visually spectacular”

Stepping into the auditorium for the National Theatre’s acclaimed production of ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane' is like entering a portal to a realm where childhood memories are spun into ethereal tapestries of wonder and vulnerability. Neil Gaiman's enchanting tale, transcends the boundaries of reality, transporting the audience to a world where the line between the mundane and the mystical is beautifully blurred. With an expertly crafted script, a stellar cast, and mesmerising production design, this theatrical adaptation is a captivating testament to the enduring power of imagination and the universality of childhood experiences.

Firstly I must say that this show is visually spectacular. Set Designer Fly Davis has thought of every single disturbing, and fantastical element to bring this story to life on stage. Alongside Lighting Designer Paule Constable, this show really transports you into a world of complete fantasy and wonder.

‘Boy’ was played with such energy by Keir Ogilvy in this extremely physical role alongside Millie Hikasa as ‘Letty’ who brought an element of humour to her character throughout. Charlie Brooks as ‘Ursula/Skarthach’ was completely mesmerising and every time she stepped on stage I couldn’t take my eyes off her, testament to her incredible story telling ability. Her sinister demeanour permeated off the stage, and gave me an uneasy feeling on many occasions.

Finty Williams as ‘Old Mrs Hempstock’, Jasmeen James as ‘Mrs Hempstock’, Aimee McGolderick as ‘Sis’ and Joe Rawlinson-Hunt as ‘Dad’ completed the extremely strong cast to make this theatrical experience very special.

With a show containing many magical illusions, some might say it’s inevitable that a show stop may occur, however this did not detract from the overall experience. Initially the illusion work under the Direction of Jamie Harrison is subtle, however as the story builds and the atmosphere changes, it kicks into full force offering quite the adventure for the audience member. Sound Designer Ian Dickinson was able to provide a soundtrack that complimented the action, with loud and imposing music that leaves an impact.

High praise indeed must go to the ensemble cast who are instrumental throughout making sure the action on stage is captivating and free flowing. As well as the puppetry work, they were on hand to move props and the performers around the stage.

Having never seen this production before I was absolutely engrossed at the wonder playing out in front of me. The mind of Neil Gaiman is clearly a wonderful thing.

This show was reviewed on the 26th September 2023 at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. The production runs there until the 30th September 2023. Tickets available here: THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Full tour details can be found here: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, adapted by Joel Horwood (oceanonstage.com)

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Photo credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

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