Theatre Review - The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Millie Kikasa in The Ocean at the End of the Lane [Brinkhoff-Moegenburg]

NEIL Gaiman wrote The Ocean at the End of the Lane to show his wife where he’d lived and share something of his childhood. This multi-layered story is about how we remember/repress the past, about love, loss, imagination and survival

Joel Horwood’s stage adaptation brings out the darkness and magic at its heart. An unnamed adult narrator (Trevor Fox) returns to his childhood Sussex home for a funeral. As the memories flood back, he recalls his friendship with Lettie Hempstock (Millie Kikasa), who lived at the local farm.

The boy (Keir Ogilvy) meets Lettie after the death of his widowed father’s lodger. She takes him home to meet her family; her mother, Ginnie (Kemi-Bo Jacobs) and Old Mrs Hempstock (Finty Williams).

Lettie has a rich imagination and refers to their pond as an ocean. Strange things start to occur and the children embark on an adventure to combat shadowy forces involving a giant “flea” called Skarthach (puppetry designed by Samuel Wyer).

Meanwhile, the boy’s father (Fox again) takes in a new lodger, Ursula (Charlie Brooks). This sinister woman manages to be everywhere at once (cue squeals from the audience) and may be connected to the monster Lettie thought she had repelled. Ursula locks up the boy and holds his dad in thrall.

CS Lewis’s Narnia stories are referenced in Katy Rudd’s thrilling production and in similar fashion we are led through unexpected portals into other worlds both exciting and dangerous.

It’s beautifully acted and even the scene changes take on a magical quality – Paule Constable’s atmospheric lighting, Fly Davis’ set and Steven Hoggett’s choreography deserve special mention.

Lettie is a memorable heroine – smart, brave, loving and protective. This is profound and magical storytelling for all ages over 12.


Until November 25