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Film review: Sea Wall

Extraordinary: Andrew Scott displays a rare ability to perform in the moment in Sea Wall


Sea Wall

Available to download from ★★★★✩

NOT many actors can outclass Phoebe Waller-Bridge, but Andrew Scott came pretty close in the concluding TV series of Fleabag — bewitching the heart and loins of an entire nation as the Hot Priest.

If you’ve been craving a Scott fix ever since, then this Simon Stephens monologue gives you an uninterrupted 30-minute-long close-up. But beware: it’s not exactly a slice of Sunday night escapist viewing.

First performed by Scott in 2008 at the Bush Theatre, revived several times since and now available as a film for less than a fiver on Vimeo, this short piece has a rare theatrical durability, partly as it’s impossible to imagine another actor in the role.

Scott plays Alex, a digital photographer who recounts a shattering event in the south of France. It’s a transfixing bit of writing, not necessarily because of what happens but because of the way Stephens anchors the unfathomable in the everyday. But it’s Scott’s performance that makes this artfully conversational monologue truly extraordinary.

You could argue Stephens’ choice of subject is a bit of a cop out as it can only prompt a template of particular emotions, but there is nothing template about Scott. He has a singular ability to perform in the moment, as though everything has only that second occurred to him. He is spellbinding here; at his most vulnerable moments like a child looking at something broken in their hands and trying to work out what has happened. Well worth 30 minutes of your time.