Ocean at the End of the Lane is odd, very odd, even the players say the word ‘weird’ several times in the opening moments.
The blurb said, ‘magical and mesmerising’. Um.
But you ask is it enjoyable? Not really. Although I noticed people in the audience laughed aloud several times, I was not among them.
It is dark, very dark and scary and in parts cruel.
However, having said that I wouldn’t have missed it for the world – this very strange world.
Imagine the script is a combined fantasy effort by Tolkien, CS Lewis and Lewis Carroll and you’ll get my drift.
The storyteller Richard MacKinnon Gaiman writes comic books, graphic novels and film scripts.
He is responsible for The Sandman series, Coraline and The Graveyard Book.
This is the story of a bereaved young boy conquering his demons with the help of ‘weird’ neighbours and the hinderance of ‘weird’ other world creatures.
Does It begin with a dark burial scene or was that my imagination, where does reality start in the play which confuses a duck pond with an ocean with dead fish?
This is the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed The Ocean at the End of the Lane which has been adapted for stage by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd.
The 17-strong ensemble cast on opening night at the Bristol Hippodrome included Charlie Brooks aka Janine Butcher in the BBC soap opera EastEnders as the blonde seductress Ursula, Trevor Fox whose television credits include The Thief, his Wife and the Canoe and Our Friends in the North as the Georgie dad, Millie Hikasa (Lettie Hempstock) Kemi-Bo Jacobs (Ginnie Hempstock), Laurie Ogden (Sis), Keir Ogilvy (Boy), and Emma-Jane Goodwin as Old Mrs Hempstock.
Weird and wonderful
The cast were wonderfully weird, actually amazing.
Loved the movement to music - not really dancing and not really music more like hologram twitches accompanied by sorrowful sounds.
The puppetry was akin to the NeverEnding Story creature but much creepier and the illusionary farce of the doors was alarmingly clever and the flapping tent was an unnatural force of weirdness.
The last time I saw something this weird was the WNO's production of The Magic Flute with a giant lobster.
This first major stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s work blends magic with memory in a tour-de-force of storytelling that takes audiences on an epic journey to a childhood once forgotten and the darkness that lurks at the very edge of it.
The award-winning creative team also includes set designer, Fly Davis; costume and puppet designer, Samuel Wyer; movement director, Steven Hoggett; composer, Jherek Bischoff; lighting designer, Paule Constable; sound designer, Ian Dickinson; magic and illusions director and designer, Jamie Harrison; puppetry director, Finn Caldwell and casting director, Naomi Downham.
Tickets from £13 plus online booking fee from https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane/bristol-hippodrome/.
This show which plays until Saturday, August 19, has an age guidance of 12+.
You should go see for yourselves and let us know your interpretation. I actually had a nightmare last night that I was another lost soul…
Carol Ann Deacon
PRODUCTION PICS: Keir Ogilvy (Boy), Millie Hikasa (Lettie), Trevor Fox (Dad) and cast of The Ocean at the End of the Lane
'Returning to his childhood home, a man finds himself standing beside the pond of the old Sussex farmhouse where he used to play. He's transported to his 12th birthday when his remarkable friend Lettie claimed it wasn't a pond, but an ocean – a place where everything is possible... Plunged into a magical world, their survival depends on their ability to reckon with ancient forces that threaten to destroy everything around them'