Review: Sea Wall, Old Vic

Andrew Scott and Simon Stephens combine to blistering effect in Sea Wall, but make sure you find some of the cheaper seats at the Old Vic if you can

“I was the polar opposite of Daniel Craig”

As is only right with any significant birthday, the Old Vic has been seriously milking their 200th and their latest gift is a two week revival of Sea Wall. The Simon Stephens monologue, written for Andrew Scott, has popped its head up a few times over the last few years, and this is being touted as possibly its final appearance.   

Since I’d missed it previously in London and given that its 30 minute running time meant it slotted in quite nicely to a two-show day, I picked up one of the cheaper tickets available (incredibly, prices go up to £80 for this). It was almost worth the money for the pre-show ‘entertainment’ as the audience fell silent a good couple of minutes before the show actually started.

And key to Sea Wall’s effectiveness is Scott’s ability to connect so entirely with his audience. Laughing and joking, we’re totally with him in the anecdotes of his ideal life. And slowly but surely, we come to realise just how much we’re in the palm of his hand as he crushes the joy away, leaving the bitter sting of desolate heartbreak.

It’s no mean feat to accomplish all this in such a short space of time, a testament to both actor and writer, under George Perrin’s assured direction. It’s also not quite the second coming, lesser-acclaimed but no less-powerful monologues being performed in theatres all across the country. Still, it ain’t a bad way to mark a special birthday.

Running time: 30 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Kevin Cummins
Sea Wall is booking at the Old Vic until 30th June

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