This play, well monologue to be precise, was written by Simon Stephens for Andrew Scott. He says that this is the play that is closest to him and was commissioned by Josie Rourke when she was artistic Director of the Bush Theatre. He was on the west coast of France with his wife, children and father-in-law when she contacted him and he drew absolutely from that holiday and those characters. Andrew Scott was the actor he wanted to play photographer Alex, as his physicality, tenderness and humanity freed the playwright from speculation about the world within Sea Wall, to imagining a character. And, alone on the Old Vic stage, apart from a frequently used bottle of water, Andrew Scott is Alex. I can’t imagine any other actor getting as much out of a character during the 35-minute running time as he does.
It’s all credit to Stephen’s writing that one isn’t immediately aware about whom Alex is initially reminiscing. Could it be his lover, father, friend? Eventually we discover the man in question is his father-in-law and how the tragedy that devastates Alex centres around him.
Dressed casually in faded jeans and a well-worn Lacoste polo shirt, Scott’s performance resembles a stand-up. Immediately engaging the audience as soon as he speaks, we’re enraptured by his dry witty observations and so want his story to have a happy ending. Scott turns nuance into an art form and handles the half-finished sentences to the manner-born.
I have never seen Andrew Scott deliver a mediocre performance and on this occasion, delivering Simon Stephen’s faultless script, he is breathtakingly brilliant. I for one will never miss seeing him perform. Pure genius.