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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Flutsch

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A National Theatre Production


Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, co-produced by the National Theatre, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, adapted by Joel Horwood, directed by Kathy Rudd. In Oxford until 24 June and then on tour throughout the UK. Book here.

[Disclosure: Our reviewer received free tickets, a free programme, and free drinks for the purposes of this review.]

The National Theatre’s production of The Ocean kicked off the Oxford leg of its UK tour this week. My thoughts on this production are quite straight forward – it is simply the finest piece of theatre I’ve seen in the past decade. It is something very, very special.

Domonic Ramsden, Keir Oglivy, Aimee McGolderick and Millie Hikasa.

Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, this production is thrilling, intense and profound. I think that any discussion of the story might spoil the experience for you, so all I will say is that the fundamental themes that are dealt with in the story are realised in a way that is thrilling rather than draining.

Millie Hikasa and Keir Ogilvy.

Every aspect of this production has achieved an extraordinary standard of excellence - from the original music, the sets, the magic and illusions, the dance, the acting, the lighting, and the puppetry – everything is original, exceptional, shocking and beautiful.

Keir Ogilvy and Millie Hikasa.

Set both in the present and in the early 80s, this production evokes that most popular of Netflix shows, Stranger Things – but is more visceral because everything is happening on stage, right in front of you. The National Theatre has set the age recommendation at 12+ and I think this is right – younger children may well be very frightened by some of the action of stage.

This production of The Ocean is British theatre at its absolute best. If there is only one theatre production you go to see this year, let it be this.


All photographs by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg.


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