The Old Vic, London – until 30 June 2018
As is only right with any significant birthday, The Old Vic has been seriously milking its 200th and the 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.