The Ocean at the End of The Lane at The Regent Theatre Stoke on Trent Review


Reviewed by H Chan

The Ocean at the End of The Lane at The Regent Theatre Review

Neil Gaiman is a genius! And so are those who adapted and worked on this show. I couldn’t begin this review without saying that first. I have only been home an hour and I can’t stop thinking about how every single detail was just incredible. The lighting, the set changes, the puppetry, the story itself, I know I’m getting ahead of myself but just wow. Well done National Theatre.

Tonight, I was lucky enough to be invited to see The Ocean at the End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman, at the Regent Theatre in Stoke. This is one of my favourite theatres. The staff are so accommodating, the venue is bright, accessible and is very clean. I love coming here and I felt that the stage was the perfect size for this show.

As a fan of Neil’s work, I have had my eye on this show for a while now. I am sure from his long list of popular media, there will be something that you have heard of. Neil is the mind behind Stardust, Coraline, Lucifer and The Sandman. The way he weaves his stories is magical and this show, based on his book of the same title, did not disappoint at all. It was a masterpiece. I truly believe though, it was a team effort between the writers, actors, and everyone else involved in the production which made it so perfect. The way it was written for the stage, how it was directed, the use of lighting added to the atmosphere, as did the smoke and use of sounds and music. Set changes were seamless and their use of members of the ensemble was really clever. The puppets were the stuff of nightmares. There is something so raw and powerful about watching this type of story on the stage rather than in a movie and it can be hard to get right. They absolutely got it right.

The story follows a twelve year old boy who meets a girl from the farm down the lane on his birthday. At the end of the lane is a duck pond, Lettie’s Ocean. The boy’s family is struggling to survive after the loss of their mother. It is really thought provoking how they wove how Boy uses his imagination to cope with true horrors. As mysterious and terrifying things begin to happen, a creature not from this world manages to cross over, throwing all of their lives into chaos. It’s hard to tell what is imagination and what is real, although as the story teaches us, our memories change as we do and who is to say what is real and what is not? I don’t think I have ever been glued to a stage quite like I was this evening. Jumping as frightening yet fascinating creatures tower above the stage, and being lost in the mist with the characters, not even realising how much time had passed. I had goosebumps as creatures strode from the mist. I was so immersed that when it was the interval, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I loved all of the characters, especially the creepy Flea Ursula, played by Charlie Brooks. I was so impressed by her performance and came away feeling genuinely both frightened of her and feeling sorry for her. I loved how Millie Hikasa’s energy as she played Lettie Hempstock radiated from the stage and how Old Mrs Hempstock, played by Finty Williams had the audience laughing and loving her. They all earned their standing ovation.

I would award this a hundred stars if I could. A definite five out of five and I would 100% go and see it again. I highly recommend you head out to see it, especially if you’re a fan of fantasy and suspense. It is intense, emotional and will have you on the edge of your seat.
Due to the nature of some of the scenes, I wouldn’t take younger children. The recommended age rating is 12+ and I agree with this as there are some scary or intense scenes and some with more adult themes which some might find unsettling. Admittedly there was a scene I found particularly disturbing but it tied in with the fabric of the story, so even though it spoke to me emotionally I wouldn’t cut it from the show.
You can find tickets for The Ocean at the End of The Lane here https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane/regent- theatre/calendar/2023-09-12 . Prices begin at £13 and there are two productions a day except for Friday. The show runs from Tuesday 12th Sept until Saturday 16th Sept. It runs for approximately two hours and thirty minutes with a twenty minute interval.

Rating: 5/5

Show More
Back to top button