REVIEW ROUND-UP: The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the National Theatre

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Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel.

The Financial Times: ★★★★ “Rudd’s staging is brilliantly pitched on the border between fantasy and reality.”

Ham & High: “Gaiman’s stories which explore the fluid boundary between the literal, imaginative and uncanny, find a perfect storm here in the highly theatrical chicanery of Katy Rudd’s dynamic stagecraft, Samuel Wyer’s stunning puppets, Finn Caldwell’s spectacular puppetry, Paule Constable’s inspired lighting, Steven Hoggett’s deft movement work and Fly Davis’ set which keeps springing magical surprises.”

Time Out: ★★★★ “A pretty dazzling achievement that sees the NT go toe-to-toe with the fantasy worlds crafted on film and TV and pretty much come out on top.”

Culture Whisper: ★★★★ “Katy Rudd’s direction exemplifies the themes found in Gaiman’s novel, creating a stunning, high-octane display of riveting puppetry, powerful performances, and real magic.”

The Telegraph: ★★★★★ “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.”

Exeunt Magazine: “Throughout this show, I feel like a giant child. I gasp and ooooooh at all of the magic tricks, including a particularly terrifying and reappearing act from the show’s villain, played by Pippa Nixon.”

The Guardian: ★★★★ “Gaiman’s novel turns into a dynamic and quirky stage spectacular, though at the expense of the more nuanced relationships.”

Variety: “Some of the early expository scenes lack pace, but the dramatic end of the first act leaves the audience agog. And the second act so fulfils expectations that the only question left unanswered is: When is the National going to bring this alarmingly good show back?”

The Arts Desk: ★★★★ “It’s the mark of truly magical storytelling that charms and terrifies in equal measure, but ultimately persuades you that the greatest and most wonderful mysteries are those lurking inside your own head.”

The Times: ★★★★ “Trying to squeeze such an extravagant story into a space as intimate as the Dorfman might seem a daunting task, but Joel Horwood’s adaptation and Katy Rudd’s restlessly imaginative production rise to the challenge. Like a close-up magician, the actors — surrounded by the audience on three sides — spin illusions in front of our eyes. Puppets float by, and even the stagehands become part of the spectacle, wafting across the set like wraiths.”

City AM: “However you read it, it’s a rousing evening of theatre, emotional, exciting and cathartic. Die-hard Gaiman fans – of who there are legion – will no doubt sell out the run, although I do wonder what might have been had this production been granted the freedom of the National’s bigger stages.”

Broadway World: ★★★ “Gaiman is probably bulletproof as an author, so Joel Harwood’s adaptation is probably bulletproof too – the theatrical elements are thrilling, after all – but this reviewer never engaged with the story.”

The Upcoming: ★★★★ “This production shows theatre at its finest and pushes the boundaries of the medium. Really, it’s a showcase of what can be achieved on stage. Rudd and Horwood have taken Gaiman’s novel, full of imaginative potential, and added a rainbow of colours, creating nothing short of a magical masterpiece.”

British Theatre.com: ★★★★ “From the opening minutes, it becomes clear that Katy Rudd’s production will be a show of visual beauty, there are so many slick, stunning set pieces.”

British Theatre Guide: “But the brilliance of its visual style, curious humour and unsettling soundscape will find it an audience even if its festive message lacks the hope, the generosity, the fun we would normally expect of a Christmas show.”

The Daily Mail: ★★★★ “Crucially, Katy Rudd’s atmospheric and sometimes scary production imbues it with a magic all its own. She co-ordinates extra-terrestrial puppetry, pulsing music a la Jean-Michel Jarre and a metamorphic set design by Fly Davis to enchanting effect.”

The Ocean at the End of the Lane continues to play at the National Theatre until 25 January 2020.

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Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.
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Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on RssEmma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.

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