Tag Archives: Samuel Wyer

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




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Click here to read all our latest reviews


Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament


Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament

Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com

Reviewed – 23rd February 2021



“a hugely enjoyable alternative to bringing audiences together during the pandemic”


At a time when every evening feels the same, it becomes increasingly difficult to find ways of focussing on our direction and knowing where to go or what to do. Particularly when the road maps we are handed are either vague, or else they just point us towards a destination that seems too far away. It is refreshing, then, to be handed, on a silver platter, something a bit different. ‘Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company’, known for immersive productions such as “Alice’s Adventures Underground” and “Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie” have resourcefully adapted their unique style of storytelling for the online age we have been forced to enter during this past year.

“Sherlock Holmes – An Online Adventure” has evolved from a live version of a similar previous production; “The Game’s Afoot” at Madame Tussauds in 2016. In this new online experience, the audience is invited into a virtual world to become the joint protagonists in what is best described as a mix of board game and murder mystery. Forced to go online by the pandemic, this is an innovative way of keeping creatives active and people engaged in the theatre world, even if the lines are blurred between ‘theatre’ and ‘game show’.

The show is subtitled; “The Case of the Hung Parliament”. Sherlock Holmes had been called away to solve another case, out in some indeterminate wilderness, so Dr Watson is left in charge. It is far from ‘elementary’ to Watson, so he recruits us as private detectives to help him solve the case. And we have just over an hour in which to crack it.

The Home Secretary, The Foreign Secretary and the Lord Chamberlain, have all been found hanging, in their own chambers. Each victim died on their birthday, and on that day had received a card with a mysterious quote written in it. The Prime Minister, it appears, is the next on the list of victims. Watson (a thoroughly convincing portrayal by Dominic Allen) briefs us all with a list of suspects before we collectively go off in search of clues. Oliver Lansley, the Artistic Director of Les Enfants Terribles, has said, in a recent interview, that “the fun of a whodunnit is usually not the answer; it’s the journey”. If you embrace the show with that spirit, then you won’t go wrong. The clues are sometimes hopelessly obscure but, on Zoom, we confer and throw theories into the pot, seeing things through different eyes. As Holmes famously quoted: “When you have eliminated the impossible; whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

The team have joined forces with the virtual reality company LIVR to create a 360° world in which we search for the hidden clues. It is a kind of adult version of the ‘Secret Path Books’ you would read as a child in which the outcome is determined by the choices you make. We have the chance to interview the suspects too and, before we point the finger and name the accused, Sherlock himself (Richard Holt) beams onto our screens guiding us towards a unanimous verdict. “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”. Time is running out, so our scrambled minds reach a majority decision before Holmes tells us we are right. Or wrong.

There is nothing deceptive about the intentions of this company to provide a hugely enjoyable alternative to bringing audiences together during the pandemic. That they succeed is an obvious fact.



Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography courtesy Les Enfants Terribles


Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament

Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com


Last ten shows reviewed by Jonathan:
Rent | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Right Left With Heels | ★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Salon | ★★★ | Century Club | December 2020
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020
The Dumb Waiter | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | December 2020
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★★ | Palace Theatre | December 2020
The Elf Who Was Scared of Christmas | ★★★★ | Charing Cross Theatre | December 2020
A Christmas Carol | ★★★ | Online | December 2020
Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020


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