Sea Wall/A Life

Sea Wall/A Life NYC Reviews and Tickets

(139 Ratings)
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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Show-Score Member Reviews (139)

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88 Reviews | 30 Followers
Intelligent, Masterful, Heart-wrenching, Absorbing, Excellent acting

See it if you love to see two very beautiful and heartbreaking monologues acted by two of the finest actors on stage and screen today.

Don't see it if you do not want to be depressed. The themes are heart wrenching. Read more

495 Reviews | 124 Followers
Gut-wrenching, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you're into smart one-acts about big themes of love, loss, and life, excellently written and acted, creating a memorable theater experience.

Don't see it if you don't feel like a devastating night of theater, get emotional easily, hate one-man shows or expect staging that's less stationary.

1167 Reviews | 464 Followers
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

68 Reviews | 6 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if I would hope everyone would want ot see Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturriidge. each presents a one act monologue. They both are brilliant.

Don't see it if If you don;t like monologues and if your don;t like plays about life and death. Read more

253 Reviews | 13 Followers
Rawness and vulnerable, Masterful, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy great acting and great story telling in an intimate setting where the vulnerability of the characters is absorbing and mesmerizing

Don't see it if You only like fluffy theater, musicals or multiple character plays.

202 Reviews | 53 Followers
Heart-wrenching, Intense, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you want to see two great actors each deliver a well written monologue; plays tied together by themes of birth, love, loss and death

Don't see it if You don't care for one-person plays; you will be too emotionally drained by depressing themes; you have recently had a family loss.....

130 Reviews | 12 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Resonant, Riveting

See it if you want to see two brilliant actors deliver serious monologues, if you are a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal or Tom Sturridge.

Don't see it if you don't like monologues, you don't like heavy subject matter involving death and parenthood.

460 Reviews | 188 Followers
Poignant story-telling, Moving, Well-acted by complementary performers, Heartfelt, Richly-engaged in human experiences of loss, love, and life itself

See it if you can put aside the fact that these monologues are a bit predictable and simply allow yourself to enjoy two fine, earnest performers.

Don't see it if two emotion-fest, 45-minute monologues about family life and death are unappealing; you need something more surprising than men's musings. 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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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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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 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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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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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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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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