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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

The ocean at the end of the lane - the Lowry Theatre

Review The ocean at the end of the lane. Lowry Theatre 17 December- Sunday 8 January

By Steve Griffiths

We are in a lucky place at present. Two superb productions on in Manchester , Betty at the Exchange and The Ocean at the Lowry. Of the two the Lowry is a more rounded production which has all the elements that you would expect from a National Theatre production.

Great production values; great puppetry and a cast that comes with credits from TV, Charlie Brooks and good theatre , Trevor Fox . And written by Neil Gaiman author of 45 books, professor of arts and someone who knows how to write a fantasy with a frightening theme .

At first it feels a little laboured. So there are 3 women who have lived on the same farm for a 1000 years. And they have a private ocean in their back yard. And the youngster – relatively – wants to play with a young man from the nearby house. Who has lost his mum and has a father who is trying to hide his emotional desert. So far so normal. But then it gets into gear.

We meet the most terrifying puppet you are likely to encounter. The stuff of nightmares. I believe that young adults – 12 +- are encouraged to go with an adult to help them cope with any worries. From my experience with 12 year old they will cope better than adults.

We see how well young women can cope with pressures . And then there is the accident which leads inexorably to scenes that Dr Who ( Neil Gaiman has written for this) would be proud of. And all in the first act. So the interval drink is a wonderful respite. And the second half is even better.

My programme tells me that magical realism is the realm of Borges, Marquez and Gunter Grass. Don’t let that put you off. Its magical but great entertainment. Some may remember The Go between with the young boy permanently affected by his experiences as a messenger, This is in the same territory but with a young boy coming to terms with the loss of his mum. With actors of the class of Trevor Fox , he has a wonderful Tyneside accent which makes him all too real, doing the business of falling for a witch and doing unspeakable things to his son.

All of the cast are up to speed which makes for a glorious evening. And there are at least four times more people in the production team than the cast . As I said , great production values.

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