THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Sea Wall ★★★★★
Specially Filmed Production, 2012
It’s been three weeks since Alex (Andrew Scott) has returned from his holiday in the South of France with his Wife, Daughter, and Father-On-Law, and is back in his studio working as a photographer, whilst talking to us, the audience, through a camera set up in what looks like the corner of the room; of course, we are completely unaware who we actually represent in conjunction to the piece, but none of that really matters when Simon Stephens’ 30 minute script, written with Andrew Scott in mind, leaves you choked up in performance from the rather remarkable leading man, who would soon go on to become a BAFTA winner, and reprise this exact role six years later in 2018 at The Old Vic in London for a limited two week stint.
Streaming online for one week only, going into this performance with as little pre-existing research is the only true advice I can give if you want the full impact of the tale; hardly ever leaving the frame, Scott catapultes you into a world that visually explodes within your imagination, even if Alex does goes off on tangents about the existence of God. Through these themes of religion, as well as a rather peculiar bodily fixture, the beauty of Stephens’ writing is the moments of silence, or rather the anticipation, intertwined through the whole piece, but most notably to the climax of a remark that Alex is trying to uncage from his speech but feels weighed down from the torment inside from tragic past experiences that has led up to this moment; the climax of the piece itself resonates in such a shattering way, that it makes you want to reach out through the screen and comfort Alex, as a man who is dealing with such pressures.
Scott’s presence and facial features are also so compelling that the words flowing out of his mouth feels natural in a way that makes them feel like they are being spoken for the first time; knowing that this piece was done with no budget and a simple read-through within an office, this knowledge certainly heightens the tension seeping through the film to it’s sheer capacity, with such raw emotion flooding through the script. Whilst moments of comedic nature bring balance to a heavy recounter of a summer holiday, these passages of baited breath ease with a soothing tone that leaves you sniggering, but at the same time fills you with anxiety of being fully aware that at any moment the rug could be pulled from under you, and once again finding yourself trapped within Alex’s worst nightmare.
With Andrew Porter co-directing the project alongside Stephens, the art of delivering such a fluidity of torment mixed with insanity is the absolute key to presenting the piece with justice, with Andrew Scott doing just that in such an honest way that you are instantly taken away from the real world and become entangled within this fictional society mapped out through the screen, which leaves you urning for the story to continue past Alex’s final remark, hardly believing that half an hour has passed so quickly, in what honestly only feels like a short heartbeat since we first met our protagonist.
Overall, Sea Wall is an absolute feat in bringing a complicated and emotional-charged piece of writing to be presented with a performer that could ultimately convey such clarity; Andrew Scott must certainly is the embodiment of that stature, and if you can, I urge you to go into this specially filmed production as cold as possible.
You can stream Sea Wall now, until Monday 18th May 2020, by Clicking Here.