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The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Norwich Theatre (05.09.2023)

As a wonderful author and screenwriter, predominantly in the dark fantasy genre, Neil Gaiman's work seems absolutely ripe for stage adaptation. So, it's incredible to think that The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the only proper stage version of his writing.

With Joel Horwood's superb script, incredible direction from Katy Rudd, a stellar cast including the likes of Charlie Brooks and Trevor Fox, plus wonderful theatrical effects and illusions, this spell-binding performance left me thirsty for more adaptations of dark fantastical tales.

If you're not familiar with the tale, the award-winning 2013 novel follows a man who, after attending a funeral, revisits the area he grew up in and remembers a girl named Lettie Hempstock who says that the pond behind her house is an ocean.

We are then transported back through the decades to when the story really begins, as the man, at just 11 or 12 years old encounters all manner of nasties in the form of supernatural beings, worms pulled from a hand, and those "varmints" also known as hunger birds - all triggered by the suicide of a man lodging at his house.

As audience members, we are then treated to a wondrous sensory spectacle of a stage show, every bit as inventive and fantastical as the novel itself.

There was just so much to love - the dazzling backdrops; the amazing costumes; the clever, humorous scene changes; the gasp-inducing illusions; the slick, tight choreography. It was an absolute masterclass in the unique wonder and emotion that theatre can stir in us all.

It matters not whether you are a fan of Neil Gaiman or indeed the novel on which this is based - if you're a fan of theatre, then you're in for one hell of a treat. And if you're not a fan of theatre, aside from questioning why you're reading this, I'd recommend you gear yourself up to be converted.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until the 9 Sept. Do not miss out.


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