A magical stage adaptation of famed writer Neil Gaiman’s book The Ocean at the End of the Lane is now hypnotising audiences in Birmingham.

The much lauded National Theatre touring production is currently running at The Alexandra Theatre.

Gaiman wrote the novel in 2013 and received appreciation from critics and readers around the world, and in 2019 the book was adapted into a stage play by Joel Horwood.

Neil Gaiman's tale explores the theme of grief and how friendship can offer healingBrinkhoff/Moegenburg
Neil Gaiman’s tale explores the theme of grief and how friendship can offer healing

The tale deals with memory and how the past has the power to haunt and plague the present and impact the future.

Gaiman employs fantasy and folk tale techniques to layer the emotional story of an insecure young lad known only as Boy who is in search of answers which he hopes will unlock the secret doors in his mind where memories are filed away.

The psychologically scarred Boy keeps himself to himself but this soon changes when a girl named Lettie enters his life and opens up a world that defies reason or logic.

Their misadventures result in a woman named Ursula entering their dynamic existence and causing untold havoc.

To reveal further details about the Hitchcockian plot would be to rob newcomers to the play of the joy of discovery and pleasure to be had in this beautiful production.

The play uses lighting, music, sound and movement to conjure up another worldBrinkhoff/Moegenburg
The play uses lighting, music, sound and movement to conjure up another world

The play deals with some really heavy themes such as the trauma of death, coping with grief and depression, and trying to find some sort of balance in a world that continually tries to unnerve and trap the unwary.

The music by composer Jherek Bischoff propels the drama and gives the scenes a truly epic feel as the tale begins to take flight to places where shadowy nightmares lurk.

The cast in this play are convincing and delve deep into their own psyches to unearth material that serves their roles. Keir Ogilvy as Boy brings a fragile loneliness to his mannerisms which acts as a perfect counterbalance to Millie Hikasa who sprinkles a sparkling energy to the character of Lettie.

Eastenders’ Charlie Brooks as Ursula is an earthy force of nature who knows exactly what she wants and how to go about getting it regardless of the cost to those around her.

The production is full of magical stage effectsBrinkhoff/Moegenburg
The production is full of magical stage effects that engage the imagination 

Katy Rudd’s direction is tight and riveting, and the themes at the core of Gaiman’s story are always kept in focus.

The art design of this production is refreshing and exciting, and is an antidote to the cold and sterile multi-million dollar Hollywood films that decay the imaginations of the audience.

The stage is used as a space were light, sound, music, movement, and puppetry effects are used to engage and captivate the minds of the audience.

The dazzling set design by Fly Davis is a thing of theatrical ingenuity and brings to life key moments of the drama in unexpected and exciting ways while Paule Constable’s mesmerising lighting adds depth and texture to the production.

The Ocean at the end of the Lane is an enchanting and thrilling experience that enriches our understanding of the human condition.

VERDICT★ ★★★☆


The Ocean at the end of the Lane is now playing at The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham until Saturday 27 May

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