Review: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane at Newcastle Theatre Royal

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Tuesday 11th July

A brilliant and amazing two and a half hours of fantasy, story of friendship, and tension that takes you to the edges.

Based on the best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman, adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, The Ocean at the End of the Lane comes to the Newcastle Theatre Royal for an extended stay until 22nd July.

I had heard great things about this production both before and after our writer Stephen Stokoe saw it at the Sunderland Empire (read the review here) so I was excited and curious to see it here in Newcastle, and it was definitely worth the wait. 

This production stands out due to the quality of staging and lighting along with the creativity that had gone into producing an absolute stunner. It all starts from when you sit down, left to view a stage with forestry and a depth that leads into darkness. Our current day dad visits a local farm and bumps into an old friend, whilst reminiscing about his old friend and the pond that was known as the Ocean At The End Of The Lane. We are then transported into a memory and back to where it all started.

Creating tension that I’ve never seen on stage before I, and the fellow audience members were drawn in and and immersed into the scenes as they played out. Occasionally we were plunged into darkness which just added to the atmosphere. So without naming individually this is a big shout out to the Lighting Team, Set Designers, Sound Designers, Magic & Illusions and Puppetry Teams.

I loved the battle scenes with Lettie and Charlie Brooks character which for me were comparable to the tension built in battle scenes I’ve seen in Transformers movies. Another scene with Brooks will have you wondering just how covers the stage from all sides and angles.

Scene changes were flawless and flowing with transitions that weren’t out of place including the ensemble cast dressed in black who would assist in floating characters in the air. We were transported from a kitchen, to the forest, to the farm and to the ocean at the end of the lane.

Through the tension though this production gave us a wonderful story of friendship and humour throughout. I applaud the cast for their performances all equally strong in their respective roles. Millie Hikasa was my standout for the show, the geeky yet adventurous and brave girl with her over pronounced words as Lettie Hempstock brought joy and humour. Not afraid of anything bonds with our boy Keir Ogilvy who is transported into a world unbeknown to him prior.

Trevor Fox plays the dad, looking good in the mirror just can’t do right for doing wrong all in the interests of the family. Laurie Ogden Performs as the annoying sister with perfection.

Charlie Brooks is fabulous and as evil as we know she can be still bringing her scheming ways to the stage in her role as the evil Ursula/Skarthach.

You won’t get to see a show like this very often, with the mix of great casting and performance blended with scene setting and atmosphere that is unique. Get ready to cross over the edges. You are in for a treat if you have tickets for this already and if not try and grab one – and if you’re short of a +1 I’ll come with you and see it again. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Tue 11 – Sat 22 Jul 2023. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

-Aaron Whittington

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