Last Updated on 24th May 2020
Paul T Davies reviews Andrew Scott in Sea Wall by Simon Stephens currently being streamed online by Sea Wall Films. Stream extended until 25th May.
Sea Wall Films, until 25th May
There isn’t much about the current situation that is positive, but I know a lot of theatre lovers are finding comfort in watching work online. Streaming is beginning to find its feet and, like live theatre, offers a range of classic revivals and a chance to see new work- mainly monologues. One classic monologue, originally launched in 2012, is Simon Stephen’s half-hour, bruising but beautiful, Sea Wall, performed by Andrew Scott.
Speaking directly to the camera, as he does to the audience in the theatre, Alex recounts what should be an ordinary story, of visiting his father in law in the South of France for a holiday with his wife and toddler daughter. He muses about religion, beliefs and photography, the challenges and joy of being a father. Light flickers on the surface, but underneath is devastating loss, challenging everything, and to give it away would spoil the piece.
What makes this play work so well is the nuances of both Stephen’s script, but particularly Scott’s performance, quiet and close, everything, his daughter’s tiny fingers and her movements, the masculinity of his Father in Law, the landscape he finds himself in, everything is painted beautifully by the alchemy of text and performance. And the tragedy is so affecting because melodrama is missing. I had to take quite a few minutes after watching it to compose myself. Those final minutes are devastating.
The direction by Simon Stephens and Andrew Porter keeps the simplicity on track, this is a quiet, heartbreaking account of love and loss. You may not be in a good place to watch it, so be aware that this may affect you. But watch it to admire the beautiful performance of a fragile, tragic tale.