Photographer Alex attempts to make sense of his life and the possibility of faith whilst facing an emotional abyss. A short play about the power of the unknown could not be more pertinent during this time. Sea Wall was first performed by Andrew Scott at the Bush Theatre back in 2008 and was later made into a short film, which is now free to stream for a limited period.
The camera can serve as a barrier when compared to the live intimacy of a theatre but here it is well and truly broken. The filmmakers had sent the recording to a composer, who suggested any music would be superfluous and it should be left untouched. With our attention undivided, and the inviting yet mercurial performance by Scott, our connection with the protagonist is immediate. No scene transitions. No props. No sound effects. Just a story, masterfully told. The result is one of the most real and intimate productions you are likely to see.
It doesn’t seem as though Scott is even acting, so meticulous, intricate and authentic is his portrayal. For over 30 minutes we are captivated by the actor and the sheer range of emotions he expresses. Scott is an expert at employing even the most subtle mannerisms to say a great deal. The actor uses his whole body and occasionally moves about the small studio space, which sits quietly in the background, to tell us his story.
Behind this performance is Simon Stephens’s relatable, gritty and heartfelt writing, worthy of such high-calibre delivery. It isn’t a surprise that the monologue was written for Scott. He is so utterly enthralling that you can’t imagine another actor in the role.
Stephens balances an appropriate amount of comical light with shade. It’s the attention to detail of both performer and writer that elevates this piece above most others. As with the sea, there is an alluring calm on the surface, but beneath lies a dark and daunting unknown that we are permitted a glimpse of. It’s a powerful, poignant and perfectly executed drama that is sure to linger with you.
Sea Wall is available to stream on YouTube from 11th May until 18th May 2020.