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Sea Wall/A Life

From 136 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Intense, Slow

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. More…

Sturridge, in his third collaboration with Tony and Olivier Award winner Simon Stephens ("Heisenberg," "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"), performs "Sea Wall," a monologue about love and the human need to know the unknowable. 

Gyllenhaal continues his artistic collaboration with Olivier Award-nominated playwright Nick Payne ("Constellations," "If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet") in "A Life," a meditation on how we say goodbye to those we love most. 


Member Reviews (136)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Intense, Slow
79
Avg Score

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!

Also I saw this show the day after I got out of the hospital after some pre... Read more Read less

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.

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

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

84
Profound, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if To watch two dark monologues about life and death, intertwined into fragile threads of every day happenings. Joy v sadness.

Don't see it if You do not like to sit still for 45 minutes for each actor. Must pay rapt attention to each line of dialogue to follow storyline.

Also The two actors are Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge. Mr. Sturridge is... Read more Read less

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.

Also I appreciate the choice of a large, sweeping stage for such an intimat... Read more Read less

79
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you're a fan of the actors and enjoy solo shows/monologues. The plays deal with loss and are quite thoughtful, albeit slow.

Don't see it if These two short plays are more suited for tiny, intimate black box theaters. It would be a tough sell if not for the A-list actors.

80
Enchanting, Dizzying, Intense, Absorbing, Slow

See it if You want to see two very talented actors reciting heartbreaking monologues on a minimalist stage.

Don't see it if You don't like monologues, can't listen to one person talk for 40-50 minutes. Or want something completely up beat.

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.

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.

85
Resonant, Heartbreaking, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Two tour de force one-man shows dealing with the universal themes of birth and death. Doesn’t go where you’d think.

Don't see it if ...emotionally harrowing stories upset you. The play starts off as an easy-going tale and ends up in a very different place.

76
Great writing, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if you enjoy good writing and acting and can handle sad endings.

Don't see it if you don't like monologues.

75
Thought-provoking, Intense, Edgy, Great acting

See it if you enjoy two good actors excelling at their work with two one acters that are well written and ring true

Don't see it if really depressing stories about life and death upset you

79
Pair of one-act tragedies duel it out, Sturridge is stirring, gyllenhaal more controlled

See it if Two fine actors perform monologues in two sad stories of loss. Love & heartbreak well acted.

Don't see it if Too large a performance space for these intimate plays. Also, topics & protagonists are too similar so little more is revealed in 2nd piece.

82
Heart-wrenching, Intense, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if 2 monologues about life & death, loss; although similar topics differences in specifics & tone

Don't see it if you want happy endings, don't like monologues or minimalist sets

Also Both actors were excellent but I found the writing in "Sea Wall" more ... Read more Read less

87
Resonant, Relevant, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you would appreciate performances by not one but two of today’s finest stage actors. Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge are exceptional.

Don't see it if you don’t enjoy monologues, even when they feel as real, resonant, and heartrending as these.

Also Nick Payne’s writing is sublime.

90
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.

Also With minimalist staging for maximum focus upon stories, the combinatio... Read more Read less

72
Good acting, Conventional stories, Slow, Indulgent, Mundane

See it if you want to see 2 actors do very good job telling rather ordinary stories about tragedy/grief/loss/birth. Noteworthy without Jake? Not sure.

Don't see it if you want something sweeping or with spectacle. These are LOW KEY, unadorned monologues by two talented actors telling somber stories.

80
Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Well-written and acted one-person plays that people can relate to.

Don't see it if Want "dialogue" and multiple characters or just want to sit back and be entertained. You have to bring your brain to engage with this.

86
Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Jake Gyllenhaal. Tom Sturridge. A bare stage that is anything but bare.

Don't see it if 2 monologues requires focus, not fir everyone

74
Resonant, Slow, Absorbing

See it if you're a big Jake Gyllenhaal or Tom Sturridge fan.

Don't see it if you require more than one actor on stage at a time.

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.

Also Ticket from online rush via TodayTix app for $27.50. Seats on the four... Read more Read less

76
Slow, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you like one-man monologues.

Don't see it if you are triggered by stories of loss and grief.

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Intelligent

See it if Two related monologues beautifully written and acted exploring life, death, loss, unspeakable tragedy and search for meaning and god

Don't see it if Very intense and difficult subject matter (especially Sea Wall) and May be hard to take for some.

89
Deeply moving, emotionally challenging, eloquent

See it if superb acting in plays beautifully crafted and eloquently written that take you on unexpected story journeys is your idea of great theatre

Don't see it if familial loss is too much to tolerate or you aren't good at some lyrical and metaphorical writing.


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....
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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 th...
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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...
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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 fl...
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