Published a decade ago, Neil Geiman’s multi-award winning metaphysical novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane takes on theatrical form as the National Theatre’s much loved adaptation makes a welcome return, this time at the Noël Coward Theatre. The tale of a man revisiting his childhood roots as he returns to his hometown for a funeral taking on a profound, multi-dimensioned reality. Themes of grief, family, friendship, belief and perspective things we’re all confronted with.
An existential production delving into the world of the unseen or not to be believed, The Ocean at the End of the Lane sparks the imagination from the get go – Katy Rudd directing a riveting watch – one that’s complex, colourful yet hearty to experience. Operating on various levels, for those purely into sci-fi and mythical works, the time bending narrative operates as a means of escapism appreciated by many. For those of philosophical or spiritual mind, the show contemplates many humanistic themes that make the evening profound.
Trevor Fox delivers a mighty task of depicting the now, and the past – taking on the role of his father as we flashback, Keir Ogilvy (Boy) depicting his younger self. Naive, sprightly and honest, Ogilvy navigates a strange, complicated world consisting of spirits, monsters and the unknown. Laurie Ogden’s turn as Boy’s sister comical, positive and a symbol of normality in a very eccentric reality established. Charlie Brooks’ Ursula/Skarthach haunts, her superficial attempt ay being ‘nice’, eery and perfectly timed. We very slowly watch a family descend into chaos, Millie Hikasa’s Lettie Hempstock – Boy’s companion and saviour an although bubbly presence, enigmatic, an ancient soul.
Rudd perfectly captures the show’s heavily magical elements. A homely piece set by the coast of Southern England, The Ocean at the End of the Lane contrasts this heartiness with a perilous journey through wormholes and battles for dominance making for a profound evening. A daring dream play unafraid of exploring the deep realities of the mind.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is currently showing until Saturday 25th November 2023 at the Noël Coward Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…