Sea Wall/A Life
80

Sea Wall/A Life NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(139 Reviews)
Positive
86%
Mixed
13%
Negative
1%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Intense, Thought-provoking

About the Show

Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal ("Sunday in the Park with George" and Tony Award nominee Tom Sturridge ("1984") make their Public Theater debut in an intimate evening of solo work.

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Member Reviews (139)

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1002 Reviews | 412 Followers
94
Resonant, Great acting, Riveting, Absorbing, Profound

See it if You like stories that as they unfold draw you deeper and deeper into their web of just how normal and much like your life you’re hearing.

Don't see it if If you can’t handle some of the roughest memories being brought out to look at in the light next to some of the brightest. Cathartic! Read more

708 Reviews | 155 Followers
86
Meaty, Intense, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you're a fan of Gyllenhall & Sturridge, enjoy short serious monologues, can deal with themes of death & grief, willing to listen

Don't see it if Don't like one person acts, have trouble dealing with subjects of death and grief, don't enjoy plays where you have to listen carefully

643 Reviews | 279 Followers
75
In "one man" show, both actor and the material have to be terrific; jake is; but material in these two one man shows is not for the ages

See it if Gyllenhaal in "A Life" seamlessly moves btwn serious/bewildered/hilariously exasperated showing thin line between grief@death, joy@birth

Don't see it if Tom Sturridge in "Sea Wall" not in same league as Jake; both plays deal w searing situations but scripts far from memorable

MJK
677 Reviews | 189 Followers
77
Melancholy, Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing

See it if you want to see two first-rate actors each deliver first-rate monologues about life... and, well, death (and its accompanying grief).

Don't see it if u expect anything more than two solo one-act monologues. [There's no real theatricality or stagecraft]; ur in need of an uplifting evening.

534 Reviews | 132 Followers
87
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Dark

See it if Well written stories about love, life, joy and death; terrific acting by both actors in each of their 45 minute monologues.

Don't see it if you are not interested in monologues or plays depicting deep feelings of isolation and sorrow. Read more

536 Reviews | 57 Followers
78
Well done monologues

See it if You appreciate good performances in monologue.

Don't see it if You don’t like monologues and depressing stories.

503 Reviews | 77 Followers
81
Disappointing, Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing

See it if you like to see terrific actors doing very good work.Wasn't as powerful or moving as it should have been.Set should have been more intimate

Don't see it if you object to gratuitous cursing.Open stage destroyed the intimacy that the subject matter demands.It was almost great,but staging hurt it.

466 Reviews | 65 Followers
79
Intense, Great acting

See it if How unprepared we are to mourn death while celebrating life. Great acting to hold the audience for 45 minute monologues.

Don't see it if Death of a parent or child are triggering. Stories solely from men's point of views annoy you. No real set for the background is too sparse. Read more

Critic Reviews (32)

The New York Times
February 14th, 2019

"Beautifully acted double bill...The way Stephens lets dread creep into the story like morning light, and grow until it fills the otherwise nearly empty stage, makes this a ripping yarn in more ways than one...It may be that Mr. Payne was too close to the material to let it go where it needed to...But even if 'A Life' is a bit of a comedown from “Sea Wall,” the two make smart companions."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
February 15th, 2019

“The two monologue plays...are, on their own, elegant, vulnerable pieces of writing. Directed with assured simplicity and without soppiness...they’re solid examples of their form...They’re also not a particularly intrepid piece of programming...While it might well move us, doesn’t challenge us theatrically...Not because Sturridge and Gyllenhaal aren’t doing tender, deeply felt work — they are — but because...things feel cathartic and safe.”
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The Hollywood Reporter
February 14th, 2019

"It's a subject to which all of us can sadly relate, making the evening as painfully harrowing as it is engrossing...The plays are subtly linked in terms of language as well as subject matter...Staged in appropriately minimalist and powerful fashion by Carrie Cracknell on a mostly bare stage, the superbly acted double-bill provides a vital reminder that life is all too fleeting."
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Entertainment Weekly
February 14th, 2019

"Where 'Sea Wall/A Life' fumbles the smallest bit is really concretely tying the two halves together — the works are thematically similar and there are little bits and pieces of dialogue that, if you are paying close attention, link them together. But if you aren’t, the ending might fall a bit flat. All in all, though, that’s a very minor complaint for an evening that will emotionally wreck you, convince you of Sturridge’s acting prowess, and further consider that Gyllenhaal is one of the finest actors of his generation."
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Variety
February 14th, 2019

"The writing in these separate monologues is excellent, as are the solo performances by Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal. But this is no show to see on a first date...There’s pleasure to be had at the sound of pretty prose, and it’s a joy to watch two fine actors perform in flawless character. But it might take a couple of stiff drinks to get the ashen taste of death out of your mouth."
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The Observer
February 14th, 2019

"Exquisitely played by Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal....The effect is raw and wrenching...On the surface, both monologues are about what we make of grief—how we assimilate it into life without going mad—but they’re really about what grief makes of us...Directed with keen sensitivity by Carrie Cracknell on an artfully drab set...'Sea Wall/A Life' is not what you’d call an uplifting experience, contemplating the sour mystery of extinction and the indifference of the universe."
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Deadline
February 14th, 2019

"Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal deliver scorching performances that can stand alongside anything on the New York stage so far this season...Our earlier encounter with the grieving dad of 'Sea Wall' has prepared us for anything, so there’s real terror in 'A Life‘s' minute-by-minute of an anything-could-go-wrong scenario. Birth and death, we’re shown, are equally precious. They are, simply, life."
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Chicago Tribune
February 14th, 2019

"Would be heavy-duty monologues experienced individually. Seen together under the unstinting direction of Carrie Cracknell, they’re enough to make you want to quit your job and run naked through the streets...Stephens knows how to seduce you with the quotidian...You’re watching such formidable writing, action and direction that the artifice of the theater is easy to forget...By all means, go for these insights. And then inure yourself against such painful truths with a stiff post-show drink."
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