Tag Archives: Jasmeen James

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane


New Victoria Theatre

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE at the New Victoria Theatre | UK Tour



“a wealth of eye catching staging and sound effects”


The Ocean at the End of the Lane, based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same title, adapted by Joel Horwood, and directed by Katy Rudd, will not disappoint Gaiman fans. This production, which opened at the National Theatre in 2019, is now touring at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. This show is a treat for those who enjoy spectacle. It has a wealth of eye catching staging and sound effects, plus a seamless merging of human actors and puppets of all shapes and sizes. The story is about a twelve year old boy, told from his perspective, and it is, in typical Gaiman fashion, a nightmarish tale. It begins with a suicide in a car.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is set in a place both familiar, and deeply and thrillingly strange. A boy of the verge of adolescence finds himself battling forces beyond his imagination and control, assisted only by his best friend, Lettie. Life has been pretty unremarkable for the Boy and his family until the night when their lodger’s body is discovered in the family car. The world as the Boy knows it suddenly becomes unrecognizable, and inexplicable. Together, he and Lettie attempt to banish the supernatural forces unleashed by the suicide into their placid neighbourhood. It turns out that Lettie and her family are pretty strange also, hiding in plain sight in an old farmhouse that appears to have existed forever. Lettie is similarly timeless, showing the Boy a duck pond that can become an ocean, and how to fight a flea that has become a monster beyond imagining. Horwood’s adaptation  is true to its sources, but it does suffer from a common problem when adapting novels to the stage. Sooner or later, the dramatic action gets swallowed up by the exposition, and the pace begins to drag. But there is so much going on visually in in this production that most audiences will not mind. The sympathetic characters, and the strength of the story, will keep people happily engaged.

Despite the lengthy playing time of play, time passes quickly enough in the company of Katy Rudd’s imaginative direction, and her talented band of actors and puppeteers. There is the set, designed by Fly Davis, which gives us a sense of a mysterious dark space framed by tree branches, and which also light up like Christmas trees when occasion demands. There’s a nice shift between the every day clothing of the Boy and his family, with the outlandish, out of time clothes of Lettie, her mother and grandmother (designed by Samuel Wyer, who also designed the puppets.) Paule Constable’s lighting is likewise essential for a well defined shift between worlds. But the real power of this production is wielded by the actors and puppeteers, who not only bring the main characters to life, but the constantly changing sets as well. With a nod to the techniques of bunraku, figures dressed in black are constantly bringing furniture on and off the stage. More frighteningly, they create the huge, otherworldly monsters that are conjured out the liminal spaces that exist just on the edge of the Sussex countryside. Finn Caldwell’s puppetry direction, together with Steven Hoggett’s movement direction, deserve special notice for all the complicated work that makes this such a visual feast.

The actors are more than up to the task of working with such a complex palette of sound, light and visuals. The Boy (played on this evening by Keir Ogilvy) and Lettie (Millie Hikasa) are a sympathetic duo caught up in an epic battle. Charlie Brooks, in the thankless task of playing the villain, deftly manages the shifts between the seemingly unthreatening Ursula, and her terrifying alter-ego. Dad, played by Trevor Fox, is particularly good as a man caught up in hiding his grief and trying to remain cheerful and positive for his children. The witchy trio of Lettie, her mother Winnie (Kemi-Bo Jacobs) and grandmother Old Mrs Hempstock (Finty Williams) bring magic and comic reassurance to the stage. The scenes in which they appear always seem brighter and more vivid, despite the lack of modern conveniences in their old farmhouse.

Fans of Neil Gaiman’s work will enjoy this show. It’s also well worth a visit for audiences who have never seen this kind of production before. The Ocean at the End of the Lane gives us performers who do the lion’s share of the work. In their hard working hands, they show us the collision of reality and magic. An ocean really does seem to come on stage for the children to play in. See it, and marvel at all the things a theatre of the imagination can do.



Reviewed on 25th January 2023

by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Brinkhoff Moegenburg



UK Tour continues until September – click for details




Other Shows Recently reviewed by Dominica


Waterloo | ★★★★ | Edinburgh Festival Fringe | August 2022
Doctor Faustus | ★★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | September 2022
House of Flamenka | ★★★★ | Peacock Theatre | September 2022
Hofesh Shecter: Contemporary Dance 2 | ★★★★★ | Battersea Arts Centre | October 2022
Mary | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | October 2022
999 | ★★★ | Cockpit Theatre | November 2022
Peter Pan’s Labyrinth | ★★★★ | The Vaults | November 2022
Tanz | ★★★★ | Battersea Arts Centre | November 2022
The Return | ★★★ | Cockpit Theatre | November 2022
Little Red Riding Hood | ★★½ | Battersea Arts Centre | December 2022
Orlando | ★★★★ | Garrick Theatre | December 2022
The Art of Illusion | ★★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | January 2023


Click here to read all our latest reviews


Fragments of a Complicated Mind

Fragments of a Complicated Mind



Fragments of a Complicated Mind

Fragments of a Complicated Mind


Reviewed – 21st January 2020



“Many of the hard-hitting quickfire scenes are discomforting and demand serious thought, while others are incredibly funny”


Artistic subversion should lead to societal revolution thanks to the provocative and anarchic Fragments of a Complicated Mind at Theatre503.

Rage against how people perceive and respond to issues of black identity – a phrase the production might have problems with in itself – bursts out of Damilola DK Fashola’s series of visionary vignettes presenting the audience with no-nonsense challenge and a plea for understanding.

Rarely can a piece of theatre have tackled such a broad range of ideas around its central theme. This isn’t just a complaint about how white people are allowed to define black identity but also honestly recognises ways in which the black community has in many ways accepted and developed such definition.

It is never an easy ride: there is little by way of cohesive structure and the themes of each scene (such as “Glitch,” “Gameshow,” “Protest” and “Vaginas”) are struck off the back wall on which they are all written as the performance progresses. There is no plot to follow for this is the product of a complex mind, with a kaleidoscope of disconnected ideas examined and dissected by an animated cast of eight.

There is a running theme of language and awareness and the ease of misunderstanding in what should be, but is seldom, a multicultural society: “Being black is more than a hashtag” says one performer as the role of social media is unpicked, while another announces, “The sweetest taste I ever felt was colourless.”

Many of the hard-hitting quickfire scenes are discomforting and demand serious thought, while others are incredibly funny. All nail their points home firmly and while it is understandable that different sections of the audience will identify with and take away very different messages there are relevant questions for all to ponder.

Fashola appears as well as directs and we get her passion without a shred of breathing space. This vigorous multilayered production uses monologues, witty humour, poetry, dance, physical theatre and carefully choreographed movement for its important storytelling and the energy is infectious and unflagging.

The plain black set with white chairs may seem too obvious yet it works well, as the burgundy clad performers move around it. The sound and lighting adds extra layers of intensity with few moments of silence or stillness in the bubbling cauldron.

It is a true ensemble piece as ideas and possibly random thoughts are gathered and stirred together. Joining Fashola are Effie Ansah, Lily-Fleur Bradbury, Michelle D’Costa, Jasmeen James, Antonia Layiwola, Luke Elliott and Luke Wilson.

There are some very funny lines and situations, but one section which particularly seems to resonate with the audience stems from the reflection on living in the capital. “What is it about London that brings out the tone of my skin?” wonders one performer. “It’s a multi-cultural city that doesn’t stand for tolerance.”

It is this uncompromising stance that makes the performance so meaningful and apposite and one suspects each evening could bring a different shade to the questions of colour, subtle shifts of emphasis leading to refreshed expression.

Why the production works so well is that is limited by nothing as it seeks to make the point that we are not black or white but human. Art, politics, religion, celebrity, ancestry, image and justice are among the issues put under the microscope and even though no answers are provided to the questions raised there is ultimately a demand for the audience to go away, chew it all over and help to bring the stereotypical status quo crashing down.


Reviewed by David Guest


Fragments of a Complicated Mind

Theatre503 until 1st February


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Hypocrisy | ★★★½ | November 2018
Cinderella and the Beanstalk | ★★★★ | December 2018
Cuzco | ★★★ | January 2019
Wolfie | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Amber Trap | ★★★ | April 2019
J’Ouvert | ★★★★ | June 2019
A Partnership | ★★★ | October 2019
Out Of Sorts | ★★★★ | October 2019
Spiderfly | ★★★★★ | November 2019
A Fairytale Revolution | ★★★★ | December 2019


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