The Ocean at the End of the Lane Review

Ava went to go and watch The Ocean at the End of the Lane on the 6th September, here is her review.

I absolutely loved watching this production at the Norwich Theatre Royal.

As a fan of frantic assembly’s previous performances and Neil Gaiman’s stories, I assumed I would probably enjoy the Ocean at the End of the Lane. And as expected I was proved right on this. But going in to watch as someone who had neither read the book nor read up on the plot, I didn’t quite know what to expect as far as the plot was concerned. However, despite going in blind on this front, I ended up really loving the performance and the story it told. 

The raw nature of the script and story itself is perfectly supported by the intricacy of the staging and physical theatre in the piece. 

I could easily tell the links between the physicality of this and that of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, as they both work in a similar engaging manner, something I really enjoy watching. But this performance also introduces a whole new set of skills and elements. The use of puppetry, both on a large and small scale, is one of these elements that I feel really aided the atmosphere of the show, adding that magical touch that the performance centres so closely around. There are several incredible moments throughout that left me open mouthed and utterly confused at how they were achieving the clever tricks onstage. The sound design is also breathtaking and perfectly supports this action onstage, telling its own intricate story alongside the central plot. 

I felt that the ensemble as a whole was incredibly strong and were part of the reason for the story having such an impact on me as I watched. I saw Daniel Cornish as Boy and thought he was brilliant in the role but I also felt that the performances from Charlie Brooks as Ursula/ and Trevor Fox as Dad really pulled the performance together and provided some of the most powerful, while chilling, and emotionally raw moments in the show.

In terms of the tale itself, Horwood’s adaptation of Gaiman’s original story is beautifully heartwarming while also being deeply poignant and incredibly dark at points, which I felt made for a really engaging watch. Unsurprisingly, it has left me wanting to read the book. 

As an audience member, I felt that the show achieved the perfect feel of childhood imagination and the naivety of it blended with the far darker realities of real life and the monsters that people are forced to face. I enjoyed every second and would highly recommend this show to anyone who is able to go and watch.