Latest Review – The Ocean at the End of the Lane [The Lowry, Salford Quays]

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

The Lowry, Salford Quays

Until Sunday 8th January 2023

Following sold out runs at the National Theatre and at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End, the critically acclaimed stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling 2013 novel of the same name now arrives at The Lowry for the opening dates of its anticipated first UK and Ireland tour, playing an extended Christmas season at the Salford venue.

It may not be particularly festive, but it is another dazzling epic from the company that has given us the likes of War HorseThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Frankenstein, and a spellbinding production that certainly delivers that big-budget spectacle audiences crave from their seasonal theatre outings.


Keir Ogilvy (Boy), Millie Hikasa (Lettie), Kemi-Bo Jacobs (Ginnie) and the cast of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. c. Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Unfolding in one extended flashback, the story begins with an unnamed man returning to his childhood hometown for his father’s funeral. On his way to the wake he stops by an old farmhouse and sees the duckpond down where he used to play as a boy. Greeted by the wise Old Mrs Hempstock who lives on the farm, the man is soon transported back to his twelfth birthday and starts to recall the dark and sinister events that occurred at the farm some forty years earlier.

Gaiman’s nostalgic, magic-realist tale is brilliantly woven and the underlying themes are weighty. Blending wild fantasy with the harsh realities of everyday life, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is at its core a hard-hitting story of loss, loneliness, family and the struggles of overcoming grief and anguish. It explores the family bond and the relationship between father and son, the contrast and disconnect between the generations, and the loss of innocence. Here dark spirits use death as a means to cross over into our realm and take advantage of our fractured hearts. Gaiman cleverly uses the supernatural and folk lore elements to highlight a child’s coming of age and the struggles with understanding and making sense of a changing, fractured world.

In a strange way there is a correlation with the other production running at The Lowry this Christmas, that being the heartwarming world premiere of Claus The Musical, which shares mainly of the same core themes, though the productions couldn’t be more different.


Aimee McGolderick (cover Sis), Charlie Brooks (Ursula), Trevor Fox (Dad) in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. c. Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Katy Rudd’s production is a masterpiece. The staging is incredibly slick and expertly devised, the effects and illusions are utterly thrilling, and it features some of the most awe-inspiring design work you’ll see in a theatre. Fly Davis’ immersive set perfectly conjures the dark, spooky woodland setting with its mix of tangled, twisting branches, and the lighting and sound design gives added dimension to the eerie, shadowy world of creatures and demons lurking just on the edge of our own.

Jherek Bischoff’s thundering, electronic score is hugely effective. An immersive, cinematic soundscape that perfectly complements the haunting design work and elevates the narrative to another level.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a show that will live long in the memory and deserves to be talked about alongside other contemporary theatre landmarks such as the aforementioned War Horse and The Cursed Child. Storytelling at its most inventive and an unforgettable production.


PLEASE NOTE: Age Guidance: 12+ yrs. This production contains the following physical effects; high intensity lighting and strobe, haze and smoke, pyrotechnics, loud sound, and blackouts. The production contains moments that some people may find frightening, including references to death.


Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.

Final Performance at The Lowry, Salford Quays: Sunday 8th January 2023.

For more information, and to book tickets, please CLICK HERE.


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