THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE | London, Duke of York’s Theatre

The National Theatre’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 2013 Book of the Year is no-holds-barred magical fantasy. With the same illusions designer as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Jamie Harrison), our visit from a hellish being beyond “The Edges” is truly jaw-dropping on stage. New lodger Ursula (Laura Rogers) is all sweetness and light when she joins the family all too quickly, and only the 11-year-old boy (Tom Mackley) sees her true, evil form.

The original score (Jherek Bischoff) and sound design (Ian Dickinson) are responsible for a lot of this production’s otherworldly power, ripping the audience in half with brash, Zimmer-like synths one moment, and soft, yearning strings the next.

But this is not just a good-against-evil fantasy spectacle. The boy’s new friend, Lettie Hempstock (Ruby Ablett) turns out to be an ageless protector against evil, who tells us that we are not ourselves, and the answers in the ocean will break us apart. At the heart of the story is the boy’s relationship with his father (Nicolas Tennant), and how they can both heal after the death of the boy’s mother.

The production is completed with winning performances by the whole ensemble, featuring explosive movement choreography (Steven Hoggett) and puppetry (Finn Caldwell). Though the story is about 11-year-olds, it is probably a little too philosophical and scary for 11-year-old audiences. But for those brave enough to venture down the lane, this production will leave you breathless.

The acclaimed production from the National Theatre is now playing in the West End until Sat 14 May 2022.

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