The Ocean at the End of the Lane feels familiar, like a warm pair of socks, or your favourite jumper. Memories of relatives long passed. Amazing friendships, and Aunties that weren’t your Auntie. All of these spill off the page of Neil Gaiman’s 2013 novel, and into the theatre at the hands of Joel Horwood and Katy Rudd.
The show, even for all its warmer scenes has a much darker undertone, the interpretation is up to the viewer. Does Boy (Keir Ogilvy) – the unnamed lead go to the edge and fight monsters with the help of his mysterious friend Lettie (Millie Hikasa). Is it a fantasy world made in the mind of a 12 year old boy to shelter himself from an abusive, lonely and cold childhood. Is the monstrous Ursula (Charlie Brooks) a real, dimension-hopping creature or an unwanted replacement for Boy’s mother.
Without spoilers it is quite the task to explain what The Ocean at the End of the Lane is. Having seen the show last night, everyone will get something different from it. Gaiman himself writes
“It was my most personal story, I thought that would make it harder for people to bring themselves to, but instead people saw themselves in it.”
Throughout the production there are mentions of, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, and even Mandrakes. I got a vibe of Stranger Things from the excellent puppet designs in the show. The physicality of the ensemble cast is fantastic as they move props and even cast members to tell the tale. Clever use of lighting supports the story, especially in tighter environments. A word of caution though, if you are sensitive to flashing lights, it may be wise to check with the theatre team before attending.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a must-see, a fantastic story mixed with an amazing cast and high production values. You can book tickets here.