We round up the reviews for the West End transfer of the National Theatre’s production based on Neil Gaiman’s book.

(c)Manuel Harlan

The Guardian: **** “The beauty of Katy Rudd’s production is the way that it manipulates theatre space into a simulacrum of a child’s imagination: doors menacingly multiply, windows open on to enchanted forests, and a pool of spotlight becomes a small but impregnable safe space, on the condition (which can never be taken for granted) that the child is brave and smart enough to resist demons he doesn’t yet recognise.”

The Independent: ***** “This West End transfer, adapted from Neil Gaiman’s best-selling fantasy novel, is a magical and menacing thing.”

Evening Standard: **** “Katy Rudd’s thrilling production of Joel Horwood’s adaptation is back with a new cast and a refreshed sense of wonder and visual dazzle. It’s a lovely, heartfelt show with a surging narrative thrust, a macabre undertow and some brilliantly evoked, seriously scary monsters. I was captivated.”

Time Out: ***** “The bottom line is, shows like this don’t come along very often. Maybe it’s changed, maybe I’ve changed, but second time out ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ felt bigger, stranger, sadder and more beautiful – I wish I could swim in its twilight waters for longer.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Katy Rudd’s direction exemplifies the themes found in Gaiman’s novel, creating a stunning, high-octane display of riveting puppetry, powerful performances, and real magic.”

London Theatre.co.uk: **** “Paule Constable’s moody, Olivier Award-winning lighting is also key to this straddling of different realms, as are Jamie Harrison’s illusions, Samuel Wyer’s puppetry, Ian Dickinson’s sound and Steven Hoggett’s movement. It’s magic conjured before us, hands grasping silk and holding aloft spines and snapping jaws. As a whole, it makes you gasp in wonder at theatre’s scope, while expertly tapping into your primal fears.”

London Theatre1: ***** “in my humble but honest opinion, if the Olivier’s next year does not include James Bamford as Best Actor, then there is no justice in the world. Bamford was truly superb. Apart from a small scene at the start and end, Boy is on stage throughout the whole performance. The character is very complex, a young lad on the verge of puberty with social anxiety. and possibly other issues,gets taken on a ride that would blow the minds of many people, and Bamford brings every nuance of the character out and lays him bare for the audience to see.”

The Arts Desk: ***** “Weirdly for a show with so many scary moments, the whole of Ocean feels safe – in a good way. Samuel Wyer’s puppets and Jamie Harrison’s illusions delight and confuse in equal measure. This is an ensemble piece, both onstage and off. The meticulously-timed dance of puppets, music, lights and actors makes you want to interview the stage managers.”

iNews: **** “Jherek Bischoff’s pulsing, Eighties-inflected music is wittily nostalgic, while Steven Hoggett’s movement and Jamie Harrison’s illusions lend the action an unearthly grace, bodies floating, gliding, or convulsed by invisible forces.”

The Reviews Hub: ***** “The performances, the breathtaking, versatile sets and the punchy audio / visual effects work in concert to deliver a moving and delightful result. The production team responsible – Fly Davis with the set, movement directed by Steven Hoggett, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Ian Dickinson and magic created by Jamie Harrison – almost become the stars of this show.”

The Stage: **** “The National Theatre’s touchingly told and lavishly designed Neil Gaiman fantasy adaptation receives its long-anticipated West End transfer.”

West End Best Friend: ***** “A particular mention should also go to James Bamford, (Boy), Nia Towle (making her theatre debut as Lettie Hempstock) and Penny Layden (Old Mrs Hempstock) who are outstanding in their performances throughout.”

Broadway World: ***** “Monsters become points of view and imagination is nurtured and welcomed. A pond becomes an ocean where possibilities begin (much like the theatre); and the bonds and friendships we create are what ultimately saves us from darkness and fear. This production is the epitome of a must-see.”

The Telegraph: ***** “Young and old alike will be entranced by the return of this illusion-packed Neil Gaiman adaptation.”

West End Wilma: ***** “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is a rich, multi-layered, complex piece that could withstand multiple viewings and continue to yield new insights. An invigorating alternative for those who want to be left thinking about a show long after it’s finished, rather than it being already forgotten by the time you’re on the train home, the show truly deserves its transfer to the West End, and provides a thrilling alternative for London theatregoers looking for something truly different.”

The Ocean at the End of the Lane  continues to play at the Duke of York’s Theatre. To book tickets click here or visit: Love Theatre.com From the Box OfficeLondon Theatre Direct.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk or Last Minute.com.