The Ocean at the End of the Lane review

The Ocean at the End of the Lane UK & Ireland tour. Millie Hikasa (Lettie) and Keir Ogilvy (boy). Photography: (c) Brinkhoff-Moegenburg


The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham. 


Based on Neil Gaiman’s hugely successful and popular novel, the National Theatre present the stage version. Adapting a fantasy book – especially one as surreal as this – can be a tall order, but wow. Just wow!

The story is about self-identity, and the disconnect between childhood and adulthood. It starts with a man attending a funeral in his old home village. Afterwards he visits some old haunts and encounters an old woman (Finty Williams) who takes him back to his childhood and the events that occurred. And what events they were.

As a boy (Keir Ogilvy) he lives with his sister (Laurie Ogden) and their dad (Trevor Fox). Their mum has died. After he experiences another traumatic death, he meets an adventurous girl called Lettie (Millie Hikasa) who lives nearby and she introduces him to “the ocean at the end of the lane” – what looks like an ordinary duck pond – and thus the adventures begin.

I don’t want to give anything else away as I didn’t know before I watched it and it was a delight to behold and discover (you may have of course read the book but there are still some surprises). I must however mention the mysterious stranger (Ursula) that appears played by Charlie Brooks (Eastenders) in a deliciously devilish performance.

The show is a visual delight: movement, puppetry, lighting effects, tricks and illusions – everything is thrown at it including the kitchen sink (or rather a bathtub!). There’s so much to see you can hardly keep up. There are moments that make you gasp.

A special mention to the performers that change the scenes, perform the puppetry, and create the “magic”. They are fantastic.

The performances, direction, staging, choreography, lighting are all out of this world. It’s visually and emotionally outstanding. You won’t have seen anything like it.

A show that will stay with you forever.


5 stars. A theatrical masterpiece.


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