DramaEast AngliaReview

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Theatre Royal, Norwich

Reviewer: Lu Greer

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Adaptor: Joel Horwood
Director: Katy Rudd

Based on Neil Gaiman’s short novel of the same name, The Ocean at the End of the Lane would on paper appear to be a story that simply isn’t compatible with the stage. Hailed as an instant classic of magical realism the book twists fantasy and reality around the reader’s mind to conjure stories and monsters. In the hands of Joel Horwood and Katy Rudd, however, the story lifts itself away from the pages and finds life on the boards.

The story opens with an unnamed man (Trevor Fox) returning to his childhood home for a funeral, bringing up memories of the last death experienced in that Sussex farmhouse. He soon finds himself standing by the pond where he and his friend Lettie would play, the pond which she insisted was an ocean, and the pond where they fought evil spirits. The audience soon finds themselves transported back into those memories with the unnamed man becoming The Boy, performed by Keir Ogilvy. His partnership with Millie Hikasa is a striking one, evoking childlike adventure, real stakes, and genuine wonder.

The most memorable part of this performance however must be the set design (Fly Davis) in partnership with costume (Samuel Wyer). The fluidity of movement as the cast manipulates the set and brings the monsters lurking on the edge to life is truly something to behold. The way the creatures shift into new and haunting shapes throughout is disturbingly reminiscent of nightmares as it is breathtakingly captivating to witness. The visuals created bring a nightmarish magical realism to the fore in an entirely unexpected way.

This is a show for, and about, a family, but not as we know it. Katy Rudd’s production turns the theatre into the stuff of childhood nightmares where doors lead nowhere, windows open on dark worlds, and those things lurking just at the edge can get a little too close.

Runs Until: 9 Sept 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Breath-taking and Captivating

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The Reviews Hub - South East

The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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