Review by Jake Goodall
SEA WALL is a provocative journey through the waves – of both ocean and grief. Set in Northern Ireland, the show follows Alex, a doting father, loving husband, loyal son and gentle soul through his musings on family, spirituality, art love and loss, between crashing waves of tragedy and hope.
The set design is simple yet extremely effective. Utilising the black box theatre, the set includes a black wall up stage with a singular black window in the middle. The set is not actively used for most of the production which facilitates a beautiful moment when Alex opens the window to an amazing soundscape of the bustling streets below. Brady Watkins’ Sound Design is flawless featuring amazing soundscapes from the bustling streets to the calming sounds of nature and the ocean. The Lighting Design by Daniel Anderzipf is equally as faultless. Largely relying on still wash throughout the piece. Deliberate lighting changes expertly heightens the tension. Aesthetically, the design culminates brilliantly in the highlight of the night; Alex opens the window to Watkins’ soundscape and Anderzipf’s back lighting – a beautifully poignant moment.
Timothy Wynn’s direction is touching and evocative. Every element of this production is meticulously crafted, down to the smallest detail (such as Alax zipping his jumper up). Each movement creates extra suspense and tension to the play. However, a production as perfect as this would not have been possible without the talented supporting technical team. Brooke Coleman as Costume Designer, Stephanie Elliot as Assistant Director, Nicholas Southey as Assistant Producer and Natalie Callaghan as Stage Manager. Commendation must be given to both Metro Arts & THAT Production Company for their continual support of Australian Independent Artists. Without companies like them Australian Theatre Artists could face extinction.
Whilst every technical element is flawless, nothing can top Steven Rooke’s performance as Alex. To lead a one-man show and keep the audience captivated is one of the hardest things to do as an actor. But Steven has the audience in the palm of his hand from his first word to his last. Steven must be commended on the impeccable Irish accent that he effortlessly sustains throughout the show. This serves to establish the setting even with minimal set.
The only questionable choice is keeping the house lights on throughout the first section. It feels odd and different to be a part of a show where you can see the other members of the audience. Whilst not necessarily a criticism, it is certainly something different from usual theatre.
All in All, SEA WALL is a phenomenal, top-tier show. A thought-provoking production that examines the importance of grief and how sometimes you just fall off the sea wall.
SEA WALL played at Metro Arts for a limited season from 22-25 June.For more information, visit THAT Production Company’s website.