Sunday, December 15, 2019

Ocean at the End of the Night

The press night of the National Theatre production of Ocean at the End of the Lane was wonderful. Also, emotionally gruelling. I sat between two women who both cried a lot, and a reviewer next to them who was doing fine until tears started splashing on his notebook. It's not that it's sad, exactly, more that it can hit you right in the feels...

The reviews are five star and four star. They say things like

INeil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” a story of childhood for adults or an adult view of the world for children? As director Katy Rudd’s astonishingly theatrical production of Joel Horwood’s adaptation resoundingly proves, the answer is: Both. Although wisely recommended for audiences above the age of twelve – the age of the central character – this captivating piece of theater, now premiering at the National Theater in London, is as scary as it is splendid and as moving as it is, in every sense, magical. (Variety)


I don’t know why but I assumed this stage adaptation of a 2013 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman – award-winning but not, I think, widely known – was a contractual obligation Christmas show, something to ensure the building could open its doors to families (at least those with children aged 12 and over) during the holiday period. 
Far from it. As one decade gives way to the next, what we have here is the NT’s successor to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – something of that order and wow-factor. The similarities with Mark Haddon’s novel are striking: the protagonist is an alienated boy drawn into a hurtling adventure cum psychological maelstrom; yet The Ocean at the End of the Lane is still a different kettle of fish, enfolding us inside a much more discombobulating narrative labyrinth.  (Daily Telegraph)

And it's all true.

This is far and away my favourite of any of the adaptations of my stuff people have made. I just wish more people were going to be able to see it. The Dorfman is an intimate theatre, and the run ends on January 25th.

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