St Martin's Lane, London WC2N 4BG 0844 871 7623
- Theatremonkey show opinion
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Ends 14th May 2022.
Captioned performance: 21st February 2022 at 7.30pm.
Sussex. Alex's mind returns to when he was 11, and the childhood pond was an ocean... His real life was difficult enough, but then another reality intruded...
Joel Horwood adapts Neil Gaiman's book. Suitable for ages 12 and over.
The National Theatre’s 2019 hit comes to the West End.
(seen at the afternoon performance on 20th November 2021)
Exactly a year and a day after the monkey first attempted to right its unavoidable missing of this at the Dorfman Theatre, it finally caught up with the show. It was delighted to have done so.
Magnificent. What the National Theatre does best.
The monkey has never been much of a fan of the “fantasy” genre – the whole “Lord of the Rings” thing left it cold, but this is a different level. A cross between "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" and "Dr Who" (the good series). Every theatrical device is used in original ways to tell a story which had the monkey wishing for the end ten minutes after it began – to find out how it all resolved.
The ingenuity of Fly Davis (set), Samuel Wyer (puppets – don’t miss them - and costumes), Steven Hoggett giving the movement, Jherek Bischoff, Paule Constable, Ian Dickinson, Jamie Harrison and Finn Caldwell filling the stage with light, thrilling audio, magic and puppetry respectively all under Kat Rudd and Sophi Dillon Moniram’s direction make the time fly without snipping required.
With James Bamford absent, Tom Mackley was Boy, 12 years old that day, his gift of boxing gloves retrieved by Dad (Nicholas Tennant) from the car in which their lodger had just killed himself. A little time-play involved; that Mackley and Tennant are father and son is in no doubt, nor is their shared pain at losing a mother and wife and facing an uncertain future.
Completing the family, Sis (Grace Hogg-Robinson) was clearly acting as a bratty tweenager. Had she not been, the monkey has no doubt her parents would not have let her survive much past her 8th birthday, sparing themselves and us all. As it is, it’s a wonderfully judged performance with the shared tinge of sorrow masked too truthfully to be painless for us watching.
Into Boy’s life comes Lettie Hempstock (Nia Towle), youngest of the eternal Hempstocks of Hempstock Farm. Towle’s captivating stage presence, smallest gestures communicating volumes is as impressive as her character’s selfless courage.
Mother figure Ginnie (Siubhan Harrison) has a gentle grace, while Old Mrs Hempstock (Penny Layden) is the mainstay of the show’s deeper mystery. Layden steals every scene she is in, attuning finely her timing and rhythm to build or ease tension as required.
Note must be made of the entire ensemble, Charlie Cameron, Jeff D’Sangalang, Kieran Garland, Emma Bown, Miranda Heath and Ruby Ablett. Called upon to play various real and puppet characters, their adaptability and physicality are a joy.
Joel Horwood’s script is a page-turner, wasting not a word nor scene to drive the tale with credibility to a touching conclusion.
With the set entwining the boxes, the monkey found its stalls row B seat enmeshed in the atmosphere and recommends that area – or see the show twice, once from further back to take in the lighting and effects, perhaps.
Either way, this is a treat for older children and all adults who appreciate a good slice of well-told supernatural with added humanity and honest emotional frankness.
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Runs 2 hours 20 minutes approximately.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.
DAY SEATS: The box office counter offers "best available" tickets for £25 or "restricted view" and standing places for £10 to personal callers. Opening times may vary, check before travelling.
The "Friday Rush Tickets" scheme is operating. Every Friday at 1pm, a number of £10 seats are also released online and by phone for the following week's performances via the National Theatre's website www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.
RUSH TICKETS: App Todaytix are offering £25 "Rush tickets," located at venue discretion, for all performances. Released for the performance on that day, first-come, first-served. Download the App from Todaytix, unlock the "Rush Ticketing" feature by sharing on Facebook or Twitter, and that will allow you to buy tickets.