Any fan of the work of NEIL GAIMAN will know just what an incredible imagination he has. He’s the best-selling author of Coraline, Good Omens and The Sandman, and now come the National Theatre’s major new stage adaptation of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE.
Incidentally, a couple of quick facts before we tell you about this fantastic production. The TV series of Good Omens starred our very own MICHAEL SHEEN, and Neil did feature in the long running series The Big Bang Theory. There’s a great scene where he goes into the comic book store, wheh the guys are talking about his book, Neil approaches them and they tell him to ‘get lost’ not realising who he was. You can watch that clip HERE.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a thrilling adventure of fantasy, myth and friendship, is a five-star spectacular which blends magic with memory in a tour-de-force of storytelling that takes audiences on an epic journey to a childhood once forgotten and the darkness that lurks at the very edge of it.
Returning to his childhood home, a man finds himself standing beside the pond of the old Sussex farmhouse where he used to play. He’s transported to his 12th birthday when his remarkable friend Lettie claimed it wasn’t a pond, but an ocean – a place where everything is possible…
Plunged into a magical world, their survival depends on their ability to reckon with ancient forces that threaten to destroy everything around them.
Here’s a look at the trailer…..
We have an incredible cast touring with this show headed by screen and stage actor CHARLIE BROOKS who, plays Ursula. Charlie is best known for being a series regular in BBC’s EastEnders, and will be part of the cast at when the show gets to the Wales Millennium Centre later this month.
Jasmeen James is Charlie’s understudy.
Also in this production is Daniel Cornish (alternate Boy), Trevor Fox (Dad), (understudy), Paolo Guidi (ensemble), Millie Hikasa (Lettie Hempstock), Lewis Howard (understudy), Kemi-Bo Jacobs (Ginnie Hempstock), Ronnie Lee (ensemble), Aimee McGoldrick (ensemble), Laurie Ogden (Sis), Keir Ogilvy (Boy), Domonic Ramsden (ensemble), Joe Rawlinson-Hunt (understudy), Risha Silvera (understudy) and Finty Williams (Old Mrs Hempstock).
Neil Gaiman has more than 45 books and short stories to his name, as well as numerous screen writing projects. Many of his books have been adapted for film and television, with The Ocean at the End of the Lane being the first major stage adaptation of his work.
So, if anyone can tell us about the story and play, it has to be Mr Gaiman himself……..
“It began with me wanting to try and explain to my wife where I grew up and what that world was like. I couldn’t take her to where I grew up [in East Grinstead] because the place had long since been demolished; it’s now covered by lots of lovely, neat little housing estates. So it was kind of an effort to try and evoke a past and a sense of place,”
Neil told us that the novel (Book of the Year in 2013 and with more than 1.2 million copies sold to date), had been rattling around his head for a while.
“I literally took the oldest idea that I had ever had. I think it’s strange that at the age of 61 I still haven’t used up all the ideas that I had for stories before I was 40.”
And the play version is fully realised on stage. Katy Rudd (director) and Joel Horwood (script adaptor) are joined by a team whose collective efforts secured both critical and audience acclaim on the play’s premiere at the National Theatre. But how does Neil feel about adaptations of his stories?
“Firstly, we struck gold with Katy. She is emerging as one of our great directors and I feel very fortunate at having begun work with her on Ocean at the early stages of her career. But I am astonishingly Darwinian in my take on adaptation. The adaptation of my very first graphic novel was so faithful; every word was up there on that stage. And it didn’t work. And it didn’t work because moments that were important in the graphic novel became throwaway on the stage.
Moments that were minor brief allusions became huge and overpowering. I realised then that you have to translate. The actual translation is now the thing that I get excited about: what can you do on the stage that you can’t do in a book?”
And there are some places on the tour schedule that have special relevance to Neil, including here in South Wales……
“I have incredibly fond memories of Cardiff because we got to go there to make Dr Who. There was a week in 2010 when I went to Cardiff and one day in particular felt almost historic: I spent the daytime on the Dr Who set watching (my episode) ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ being shot and then in the evening I met up with Terry Pratchett in a little Japanese restaurant. This is when we agreed we would do Good Omens as a TV series. Well done that day!”
Neil would be the perfect person to describe the play, but always wanting to challenge the cast, we asked each of them to describe the plot in just 15 seconds.
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE gets to the Wales Millennium Centre this evening (Tuesday 30th May) through to Saturday 3rd June. Performances are at 7:30pm each evening with a 2:30pm matinee on Thursday and Saturday. Tickets start at £17:50 and you can get yours HERE.