Andrew Scott in Sea Wall, celebrating 200 years at the Old Vic

We’ve just returned from our visit to the Old Vic to watch Sea Wall, a monologue performed by Andrew Scott. It was written specifically for him more than ten years ago by Simon Stephens. This time around, it was staged again to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the theatre.

Scott’s character Alex tells the audience about his life with his loving family. How he made friends with his wife’s father, an ex-soldier, how their young daughter brings joy to their life, how he’s happy with his job and where he lives.


Photo of Andrew Scott (c) Kevin Cummins; rest (c) BSqB

Gradually the monologue steers towards the revelation of perhaps the most horrible event that can happen to man.

As you would expect from an actor of Scott’s calibre, his performance is smooth and precise. The audience is laughing out loud one second and holding back tears the next moment. While everyone else in the audience seemed to think they were just witnessing the best performance in the history of theatre, the play did not quite do its trick on Ms B and me.

I can’t really put my finger on it. I guess it just seemed a bit too random and the 30 minutes available to Scott simply did not appear to be sufficient time to develop the various characters his monologue touches on. Alex’s life is too unremarkable and bland to invoke interest and deeper compassion. Throughout large sections during the first two thirds of the monologue, the rhythm is too methodical, repeating the same pattern of two sentences fast, loud, then two sentences slow, quiet, again and again.

Not too impressed.

Looking for further reviews of plays? Try Obsession at the Barbican, Art at the Old Vic, No Man’s Land at the Wyndham’s Theatre.

Or perhaps into adventure? Try our posts about skydiving and my rides on a jetlev, a helicopter, a jetski, and a Segway.

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  1. What an absurd review. Andrew Scott’s character, Alex, is SUPPOSED to have an unremarkable life (probably much like your own) he’s an ordinary family guy, with a wife he loves, a job he likes and a kid he adores — “bland” as you say. Then one ordinary day in his ordinary life, he suffers the biggest loss and tragedy a father can experience. Everything changes and his life (and self) will never ve the same. It’s brilliant how, all the things he discusses and describes in less than 35 mins, perfectly illustrate that regular life and the end of it, because of the enormity of that sudden loss. All not so “random”, honey.

    1. Hi Carla, thanks for your candid comment.

      I don’t claim to be an expert on this play or even theatre in general.

      I found that people read my wife’s and my blog to get a feel for a play, a holiday destination, a tour, restaurant, or whatever, and then decide for themselves if they think it’s for them. I do not compare myself with a full-time theatre critic and usually only make an effort to read up on plays that didn’t bore me to death.

      It did, of course, occur to me that the author was not quite as hopeless as to think that he’d created a fascinating character, so I did presume that this was intentional. It just didn’t do the trick for me. Perhaps I’ll change the wording to reflect this aspect.

      In any case, you seem to know your way around theatre, I’m always grateful for constructive criticism. Feel welcome to rubbish all of my reviews, sweetheart.

      All the best – Stefan

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