After a slightly slow start, this heart-racing production of Neil Gaiman’s novel ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ really ramps up the pace and gets the senses working overtime for a solid two-and-a-half hours. Brace yourselves.
Stepping into Gaiman’s familiar territory of magical realism, we’re never quite sure if what we’re watching in ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ is false memory, abject horror or plain fantasy. There are so many ways to interpret this. It’s up to you.
Our main character Boy (Keir Ogilvy), still reeling from the death of his mother a year before, is left traumatised after witnessing the suicide of their lodger, whom his Dad (Trevor Fox) had taken in to help with the family’s ailing finances. This sets in motion a string of events that sees Boy meet the mysterious Lettie (Millie Hikasa) and her other-worldly mother and grandmother (Kemi-Bo Jacobs and Finty Williams) who, fortunately, seem to know what needs to be done to stop the chaos that Boy has accidentally unleashed care of an ancient monster known as Ursula (played brilliantly by EastEnders’ Charlie Brooks).
With genuinely terrifying puppets, a synth-heavy score and an impressive use of mind-boggling scenery and set switcharoos, ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ is a real trip into the Upside Down: a place that will be all-too-familiar to anyone who has seen Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’. A show I mention given that this theatre production and that TV show have a lot in common: set in the 1980s, synthy soundtrack, dark narrative led by the kids, and world-crushing monsters from another dimension threatening to destroy civilisation. Crumbs!
I rarely give anything five out of five but ‘The Ocean at the End of the World’ definitely deserves a full house of stars.