Completely blown away by this show, I’d give it ten stars if I could.

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, previously on at the National Theatre, currently on at New Wimbledon, and scheduled to tour across the UK, is a stage adaptation of the book by Neil Gaiman. Chances are, you’ve read at least one of his books, which are known for having magical realism. The creative list is extensive with some serious theatre under their belts, the likes of whom have worked on similarly impressive productions known for special effects, movement choreography, and puppetry (including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and Life of Pi). Jamie Harrison’s magic and illusions direction and design is simply amazing. Every single move in this play is calculated, due to the wonderful movement director Steven Hoggett. Every set change is choreographed, keeping the scene changes fluid. I loved the interaction between the actors and ensemble; it made even the most mundane thing of taking a table away magical. I am in awe of what they have accomplished – the enchanted set, the massive puppetry, the cannot-figure-out-for-the-life-of-me effects (How did they do the Ursula door scene?!). They are the real stars, the real magic-makers.

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

The Ocean at the End of the Lane begins with Boy (Keir Ogilvy) witnessing an unsettling suicide, then meeting Lettie (Millie Hikasa) who whisks him away to her farm where she lives with her mother, Gennie (Kemi-Bo Jacobs) and grandmother, Old Mrs Hempstock (Finty Williams). These group of women take him in, giving him food, shelter, comfort, and a cup of tea (which is a basic human right!) and off the story goes, with all the adventure, danger, thrill, and excitement you could want. The show is pure escapism; it almost felt immersive. The story’s set up is masterful in the way the audience is introduced to the Hempstocks’ magical world, its rules, and its creatures alongside Boy; we are in for a wild, extraordinary ride.

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

While all of the actors are incredible and energetic, never showing an ounce of exhaustion in a physically demanding play, a couple of them stood out to me. Williams as Old Mrs Hempstock immediately emanates wisdom, strength, and comfort. A Dumbledore/Gandolf-esque character, you’d trust her with your life and know when she is around, everything will be okay. Hikasa as Lettie radiates goodness; she charming and delightful with a heart of gold and the purest of intentions. I particularly enjoyed her endearing interactions with Ogilvy (Boy) as someone who doesn’t spend much time with people outside her magical farm. Giving the most bewitching performance is Charlie Brooks as Ursula/Skarthach. Her homemaker persona deliciously chips away to reveal her inner chillingly evil self. She is astoundingly perfect.

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of those brilliant YA books that you revisit as an adult – noticing all the complexities, themes, lessons, and symbols – and realize why it was so special when you were younger. In this production full of time snippets, fleas, worm holes, and oceans in buckets, the most extraordinary thing about it is its emotion. The story reminds us that the real difference between the mundane world and the magical one is how we choose to remember, and to embrace our imagination.

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

The emotional highs and lows – the beautiful, blooming friendship between Boy and Lettie and the struggling, heart-wrenching relationship between Boy and Father – on top of the intense, heart-racing scenes, on top of the wonder of the special effects left me exhausted (in a good way!) by the end of the show. This is a truly special piece; even people who don’t like theatre would love this show. The Ocean at the End of the Lane has everything you could ask for in a production and carries it all out superbly.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is on at New Wimbledon Theatre until the 15th of April then tours across the UK and Ireland.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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