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.