(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 2/24.)
It may be best to know as little as possible before going to Sea Wall, a play that, at its most profound, is about how little we know. Yet it will spoil nothing to say that Simon Stephens’ short and perfectly-formed play from 2008 is all held in one moment, related to us by its speaker in deceptively throwaway terms.
On holiday in France, with his wife and his young daughter, Alex goes swimming with his father-in-law out to the sea wall: “This makes no sense to me at all. There’s a wall in the sea? It drops down. Hundreds of feet… I thought it was a gradual slope.” Floating over the abyss, the fall beneath “is as terrifying as anything I’ve ever seen”. It’s a small, life-changing realisation. The world can never be the same again.
Fans of the great screen actor Andrew Scott, for whom the play was written, may be alarmed to discover that he has been replaced for this out-of-term Dublin Theatre Festival presentation – at short notice and with little warning – by Andrew Scott the extraordinary stage actor. They look quite similar, but they have fantastically different methods.