Sea Wall / A Life BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
  • NY TIMES

  • DEADLINE

  • VARIETY

  • AMNY

  • TIME OUT

Opening Night:
August 8, 2019
Closing:
September 29, 2019

Theater: Hudson Theatre / 145 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

Synopsis: 

Meet Alex, a photographer on a holiday with his family in the south of France. Meet Abe, a music producer with a baby on the way. Two men – both fathers, husbands, and sons – take us on a journey you will never forget.

The finest actors of their generation, Academy Award® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Sunday In The Park With George) and Tony Award® nominee Tom Sturridge (1984), had audiences roaring to their feet at the sold-out engagement at The Public Theater. Now Sea Wall/A Life, from the visionary creative team behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Constellations and A Doll’s House, comes to Broadway.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Sea Wall / A Life

    ‘Sea Wall/A Life’ Review: Quiet Tragicomedies of Love and Loss

    Laura Collins-Hughes

    August 8, 2019: If it wasn’t the absolute worst time someone’s electronic device could have gone off during “Sea Wall,” Simon Stephens’s exquisite one-act monologue that’s part of a Broadway double bill, it still might well have sabotaged the show. The British actor Tom Sturridge had held us entranced all the way to the pin-drop quiet of the play’s delicate final seconds when a robotic voice intruded from the orchestra of the Hudson Theater to deliver — what was it, an Amber Alert? A less masterful performer, or one of stormier temperament, might have let the audience’s reflexive anger overwhelm the moment. Without breaking character, Mr. Sturridge chose a smarter, more graceful course. “It’s O.K.,” he said gently, definitely to us but maybe also partly to himself, and the words were a balm: soothing the room and restoring the spell he’d cast, almost as soon as it had been shattered. He paused a long while, then resumed the play’s last little wordless bit, a coda now. Witnessing such a coup of craft and professionalism is part of the reason we go to live theater, where the best actors are sharply attuned to whatever is happening in the room. And that’s very much the case with “Sea Wall/A Life,” the program of twinned monologues that opened on Thursday night. Its second half, Nick Payne’s “A Life,” is performed by Jake Gyllenhaal.

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  • DEADLINE REVIEW OF Sea Wall / A Life

    ‘Sea Wall/A Life’ Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal And Tom Sturridge Bring Power To The Big Stage

    Greg Evans

    August 8, 2019: The wrenching (and slyly funny) Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge double-bill of one-act plays, Sea Wall/A Life, has lost none of its intimate power in the move from Off Broadway to Broadway’s Hudson Theater, where it opens tonight. Aside from a late-in-the-show visual flourish involving the projection of a many-windowed building facade, the production has few noticeable alterations. That projection, though, is a nice touch, suggesting that the very personal pain experienced by each of these characters (who share the stage only once, fleetingly, and with no interaction) could be happening behind each and every pane of glass.

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  • VARIETY REVIEW OF Sea Wall / A Life

    Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Sea Wall/A Life’

    Marilyn Stasio

    August 8, 2019: Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at Broadway’s intimate Hudson Theatre — is excellent, as are the solo performances by Tom Sturridge (“Sea Wall”) and Jake Gyllenhaal (“A Life”). But this is no show to see on a first date. Both plays take place on the same stone-cold set — two levels of solid brick walls — designed by Laura Jelinek and lighted with beautiful bleakness by Guy Hoare. The rest is left to the imagination in this stark production directed by Carrie Cracknell.

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  • AM NEW YORK REVIEW OF Sea Wall / A Life

    'Sea Wall/A Life' review: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Sturridge bring intimacy to the big stage

    Matt Windman

    August 8, 2019: I was certainly skeptical when it was announced that “Sea Wall/A Life,” a pair of short and sobering monologues by contemporary English playwrights Simon Stephens (“Heisenberg”) and Nick Payne (“Constellations”) starring stage and screen actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge, would play a short run on Broadway following its premiere at the Public Theater a few months ago. If the monologues — which are performed on an empty stage with minimal lighting and sound design elements — felt bare Off-Broadway, how would they fare in a Broadway theater with a mezzanine and balcony? Perhaps both Gyllenhaal and Sturridge had some free time in between other gigs, and Hudson Theatre was already going to be vacant in between the runs of Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This” and David Byrne’s “American Utopia.” Coincidentally, Gyllenhaal and Sturridge each previously performed at the theater, in “Sunday in the Park with George” and “1984,” respectively.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Sea Wall / A Life

    Sea Wall / A Life

    Adam Feldman

    August 8, 2019: Pairing two shows back-to-back sometimes brings out the best in both; sometimes, it only makes the virtues of one of them shine brighter. The latter is the case in Sea Wall/A Life, a diptych of works by English playwrights that ran at the Public Theater earlier this year. The two pieces are superficially similar: Both are one-act monologues for men, and both deal with grief; both, oddly enough, include references to ER. But in every regard, the first of the two puts the second in the shade. Sea Wall, by Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), is a marvel of compression and detail. Tom Sturridge plays Alex, a catalog photographer who opens up to the audience about the great sadness he carries with him in the aftermath of a trip to southern France. (“There’s a hole running through the center of my stomach,” he says. “You must have all felt a bit awkward because you can probably see it.”) Sturridge is gorgeously believable and personable as he guides us through the slow drip of revelations in Stephens’s carefully constructed story. Under Carrie Cracknell’s graceful direction, the play earns your trust and then quietly, gently breaks your heart.

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