Have you ever heard about the author Neil Gaiman? You know, the English author that wrote many of our favorites such as Coraline, Stardust, The Sandman? Yes? Well, he wrote The Ocean at the End of the Lane and it was published in 2013. This novel was adapted for the stage in 2019 by Joel Horwood. This play is a production by the National Theater production. Why do I give you all of this information? You guessed it, because I got to watch this magnificent show at the Noël Coward Theatre on October 26th, which was in the middle of our midterms, but it was absolutely worth it. Most importantly and memorably, I got to watch it with my dear friend Queenie.
This show was such an interesting theatrical experience, because it blended so many mediums of art/theater into the performance. There were the traditional spotlights, prop/set movement on stage, but it also had puppets, magic, illusions, flying! There is one particular moment in the play where the main characters Boy (Daniel Cornish) and Lettie (Millie Hikasa) are swimming in the ocean. But Boy and Lettie are on stage as puppets with little light bulbs, with their respective actors handling them. It was such a beautiful scene to see, I felt like a child. It was so endearing, safe, and full of wonder. I had never experienced anything like this before. Another amazing moment was when (spoiler alert) Lettie passes away and the ocean comes onto stage, from above the audience to wash her away. The ocean is a piece of silk that encompasses her as she disappears from the stage. Truly magical (I may or may not have teared up a bit).
Another thing that blew me away were the dancers involved in this production. These dancers were an essential part of the props mobility. In other words, they were stage hands, but in a more poetic way. They made moving a chair look like The Swan Lake. They also helped a lot with the movement of puppets. There were various epic battles on stage that relied heavily on the music and choreography, Hikasa’s mannerisms were spellbinding (quite literally). The dancers handling the puppets reminded me of the Mascaradas in Costa Rica. Something that I always saw as traditional, patriotic celebrations was now somehow represented on stage. Not completely the same, but similar. It was a nice nod to home, everything can be theater!
Also, you know it would not be a Neil Gaiman show without a little, tiny bit of creepy horror. The Ocean at the End of the Lane nails it. Confession time, I was scared. A cloud lingered around me, constant goosebumps crawled on my skin, Queenie and I were at the edge of our seats. Also, the music used during this production definitely added to that suspense, Psycho sort of vibe, so precise and iconic moments. It was so good, horror is one of my favorite genres, but I had never seen work on stage that was scary. Mind you, we walked into this show without knowing what it was about, we walked out pleasantly fulfilled!
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Paulina Morera Quesada
My name is Paulina, I am a artist from Costa Rica. I attend St. Olaf College, where I study Inclusivity in the Performing Arts. My life mission is to create inclusive spaces for people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals in the performing arts.