REVIEW - Ocean At The End Of The Lane at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre is full of depth - The Bromsgrove Standard

REVIEW - Ocean At The End Of The Lane at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre is full of depth

Bromsgrove Editorial 25th May, 2023 Updated: 26th May, 2023   0

THE NATIONAL  Theatre on tour production of The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, based on the novel by Joel Horwood and adapted for the stage by Neil Gaiman, is not just outstanding – it’s ground-breakingly outstanding.

I’ll go as far as to say it is one of the most important pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen!

The story concerns a one-parent family, grieving widower dad, a son who is referred to simply as ‘Boy’ and his sister.

They take in lodgers, the latest of which commits a graphic suicide at the start of the play.

Picture by Brinkhoff Moegenburg. s

Boy is told to flee the suicide scene by his father when the police arrive and that is the signal to take the plot off into a whole new realm.




Boy stumbles into the farmhouse of the Hempstocks. They have a duck pond which they call their ocean. They are also vocal yokels on the white side of magic.

Meanwhile back at the death zone, a crack between parallel worlds allows a monster to enter.


It is in the form of a she-witch and disguised as a potential lodger / would-be step-Mum.

From there we descend straight into heart beating fantasy – but not entirely, as cleverly interwoven twixt the gothic horror is a play about family values, passion and compassion, who we are and a common theme of childhood memories. Things probably were not as we remember them to be but they are unique to us and are the very backbone of who we have become.

Everything we see and hear in this production is all-consuming and when it’s scary, boy is it scary! Cirque du Soleil meets Annabelle and Chucky. Mind blowing effects merge seamlessly with classical theatre.

Picture by Brinkhoff Moegenburg. s

So to some credits – this is nothing short of a masterclass in direction from Katy Rudd, a set which almost lives and breathes from Fly Davis, cute and horrifying puppet direction from Finn Caldwell, awesome lighting designed by Paule Constable,  from ear-piercing to  beautiful audio from Ian Dickinson, exciting movement choreographed by Steven Hoggett  and magic and illusions to make you gasp from Jamie Harrison.

Moving onto the cast – Boy was a striking and believable performance by Keir Ogilvy who was the perfect partner for Millie Hikasa’s mystic heroine Lettie.

Trevor Fox made an excellent Dad, full of warmth and well, ‘daddiness’. Charlie Brooks is a tour de force as the menacing Ursula and the whole cast work seamlessly and triumphantly.

With an abundance of special effects amidst a production that breaks new ground with every scene, go with an open mind and prepare to be part of a new dawn in theatre.

Magnificent!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is at the Alexandra Theatre until Saturday, May 27. Click here for times, tickets and more.

 

*****

Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews

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