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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke

REVIEW: THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE @ THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

🎭 The Ocean at the End of the Lane

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Tuesday 14th February 2023

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AN EXTRAORDINARY PIECE OF THEATRE


It's hard to know where to begin with my review of The National Theatre's production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane which is currently playing at Theatre Royal Plymouth. Simply put this is, without question, the best play I have ever seen.


Based on a fantastic story by Neil Gaiman and adapted by Joel Horwood, this production is mesmerising from the opening moments right up to its subdued ending. I've never been so captivated by anything in the theatre.


It was a real spectacle to watch. So many incredible special effects that it was almost like I was watching a movie! A real mix of illusion, puppetry and exceptional acting brought an incredible story to life.


Completing the experience was a beautifully elegant set design by Fly Davis and epically stunning music composed by Jherek Bischoff. I've never been in awe of the music to a play before, but this was something special.

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The story follows a character only referred to as Boy as he takes a mystical journey which blurs the lines between two worlds. I really don't want to give too much of the plot away in my review because this is really a journey that should be experienced blind.


The role of Boy was convincingly portrayed by Keir Ogilvy. You completely believed he was a 12 year old boy and instantly fell in love with him. The relationships between him and Millie Hikasa as Lettie and Trevor Fox as Dad were played exceptionally and believably.


The entire cast were absolutely sensational and there was not one weak link amongst them. Ogilvy gave us a wide-eyed innocence and Fox was sensitive as Dad struggled through his emotions and trying to single handedly raise his young family.

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Hikasa was flawless in her role and alongside Kemi-Bo Jacobs as Ginnie and Finty Williams as Old Mrs Hempstock, they created a believable family unit and window into the strange realities of the story.


It's hard to pick a standout performance in this piece because the talent on display was so good, but I think Williams was perhaps my favourite. She gave an outstanding performance and completely embodied her role. She single handedly closed the story in a beautifully calming moment.


When an actor is so loved and well-known as playing one character, it can be difficult to accept them in a different role. This statement could not be further from the truth when talking about Charlie Brooks who gave an outstanding performance as Ursula. Even though technically the villain of the piece, there was something likeable about her character and at no point while watching her did you think 'That's Janine from Eastenders'! The mark of a true professional and a testament to her incredible acting skills.

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The final member of the main cast is Laurie Ogden who played Sis. Again, she was utterly believable as a child and delivered a wonderful performance throughout.


The Ensemble in this piece are integral and although they never speak, they take on a character of their own and are mesmerising to watch. Made up of Ronnie Lee, Paulo Guidi, Aimee McGoldrick and Dominic Ramsden I was as blown away by their performances just as much as the central cast.


There was honestly no part of this show that I didn't enjoy. My husband and I both loved it so much that we're looking at booking tickets for a second viewing.


This production does not try to sugarcoat things and at times is brutal with its honesty. My husband suffers with his mental health at times and he likened the character of Ursula and some of the things she said to his demons talking to him, which I thought was such a powerful statement.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane continues performances at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 25th February 2023. Head to www.theatreroyal.com to check availability and book tickets.


Believe me when I say that if you only see one play this year, then this is absolutely the one to see!


Neill Kovacic-Clarke


All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.


My tickets for this performance were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to the Press Night to review the production. The fact that my tickets were gifted played no part in my star rating for this review.


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CAST LIST

Boy: Keir Ogilvy

Old Mrs Hempstock: Finty Williams

Dad: Trevor Fox

Ursula / Skarthach: Charlie Brooks

Lettie Hempstock: Millie Hikasa

Ginnie Hempstock: Kemi-Bo Jacobs

Sis: Laurie Ogden

Ensemble / Lodger: Ronnie Lee

Ensemble: Paulo Guidi

Ensemble: Aimee McGoldrick

Ensemble: Domonic Ramsden


RUN TIME

2 hours 30 minutes, including a 20 minute interval

The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West.

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