Sea Wall review: ‘Truly outstanding display of expertise’


The unannounced waves will knock the air out of you.

Sea Wall is the 30-minute melancholic monologue of grieving father, Alex. Such an intimate yet universally generalized narrative perspective- the father figure is one we so easily forget to appreciate in its wide emotional capacity, which is what makes Simon Stephens’ play so willfully entrancing.

Its story, so unashamedly undidactic in its purpose, is an account of raw trauma that bluntly addresses human flaw and fear. The play is built up by Alex’s heartfelt anecdotes of familial silliness and then scythed down by Stephens’ attempt to vocalise the irrevocable incident of Alex’s daughter’s death. Framing such a complex transition respectfully and believably is something that Letterbox Productions copes with well.

an account of raw trauma that bluntly addresses human flaw and fear

Helena Snider’s artistic choices as director must be commended. With the help of her assistant director Luke Blackstock, she creates a space of ingeniously stark simplicity out of the Alington House Community Centre. For such an intensely hard-hitting play, the illusion of absolute truth is essential. The unassumingly everyday lighting and bare setting contributes to the sheer realism of the performance. Thanks to Sniders entirely undramatic directive choices it is genuinely difficult to discern Kishore from the role he plays as Alex. There is no doubt in my mind that Kishore is a father. There is no doubt in my mind that he giggled with his wife Helen, watched his daughter Lucy play power rangers or that he is a broken man holding in his hands the cracked head of his daughter and the remaining shards of his heart. His performance of Alex in the strategically unstagelike space meant the actor who revisited the audience to receive his applause was barely recognisable.

this is a truly outstanding display of expertise from both Actor and Director

Kishore’s portrayal of a doting father with a soft centre is a relatable figure. He appeals to the gentle side of the character approaching the lines about love and the preciousness of his family with a earnesty that melts hearts. There is a consistently good execution of comedic timing, as well as a deliberately over-dramatised tone to the way Kishore chooses to tell Alex’s fatherly stories. This interpretation of the character reminds us fondly of the idea of dad-jokes around a family dinner table. His engagement with the audience through the use of a lot of personal eye contact enhances the feeling of being directly in the conversational company of Alex. A little tightening of the pace around the middle section of family recollections could even further entice us into the propulsive nature of his stories.

The most poignant moment of -Walker’s performance is his description of grief as feeling his insides faltering and falling in on himself. The choices made with his subtle gestures and tonal control coalesce beautifully to illustrate how Alex’s stomach is sinking like the Mediterranean seabed.

It is a very hard thing for an audience to believe an actor’s tears, Kishore’s emotive performance translates to undeniably blurry vision from several members in his audience.

Overall, this is a truly outstanding display of expertise from both Actor and Director.

Photography: Letterbox Productions 

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