Sea Wall at the ntSHED – Review | News | BBC Sherlock | Sherlockology Sherlockabilia Shop Now Open

Sea Wall at the ntSHED – Review * 29 July 2013


A short, devastating thirty minutes of pure performance, the mesmerising Sea Wall is a monologue that is entirely reliant on the actor before you. And since the play was written for Andrew Scott, you should have no problem becoming fully invested in what you are seeing.

Already available online for purchase or rental in video form, Sea Wall has been performed onstage by Andrew several times since its debut in 2008, and is currently playing until August 2 2013 at the ntSHED, a temporary venue on London's Southbank attached to the National Theatre.

The opportunity of seeing the piece performed live is a unique one, as tonally your interaction as a viewer of the work changes quite dramatically. By its nature, the play takes the form of Alex (Andrew Scott) talking to you. On film, it is to camera. Onstage, it is to a collected audience of a couple of hundred people. In both cases, you smile and laugh along with him, while slowly becoming more puzzled as his monologue twists and changes direction with almost haphazard abandon, until his thoughts finally form into a stunning punch to the gut. By this time, he has your entire, rapt attention.

To say anything of the actual content of Alex's story would be a crime, as the entire point is to listen to Andrew Scott tell it to you. Such is the skill and ability of the BAFTA winning actor, the audience becomes completely invested. But the most intriguing thing is the way both formats diverge from the other. On video, it is almost as if you are inhabiting Alex's head itself, such is the mass of information his imparts to you; while on stage, on a completely empty set - with only a bottle of water to aid him under the heat of the lights - it is almost as if you are a willing participant, there to quietly listen as if you were the man's friend, his stream of consciousness tumbling forth until he finally exorcises himself of the story he simply has to tell you. It is as if he simply needs to share it, be rid of it, and by simple virtue of pure skill on the part of Andrew Scott, you completely, utterly believe it.

While only thirty minutes long, if you have any interest in seeing a superb actor perform a piece of such astonishing humour, heart, frankness and true tragedy, it is an opportunity that simply should not be missed.

Sea Wall is available for download now from, and is performing for the rest of this week at the National Theatre's ntSHED until August 22013, at 22:00BST every day. Tickets are released at the National Theatre box office daily at midday BST, in person or by telephone on 020 7452 3244.