[Theatre/Performance ~ SA]
Space Theatre at Adelaide Festival Centre, Tue 16 Feb.
Flying Penguin Productions have brought back to the 2021 Fringe a play they first performed to acclaim in 2018. Their latest production of Sea Wall By Simon Stephens uses the same director (David Mealor) and actor (Renato Musolino) as before, but this time with the technical resources available at Space Theatre added into the mix.
Sea Wall is a short monologue which muses about big issues – love, parenting, God, infinity and loss. It has an immensely affecting and moving script, with an emotional punch, but it is ultimately not harrowing – there is hope and at times humour.
Musolino, a regular on South Australian and national stages, makes an immediate connection with his audience by using an amicable persona and conversational touches, including asides to individual audience members. The audience identifies with the character Alex easily as the young father fondly remembering his daughter and wife, as he gives happy snap glimpses of his past. But such is the skill of the writing and the acting that even from the start the shadow of a dark hurt is evident. And it is the recounting of this hurt where Musolino’s power as a performer comes most to the fore. His acting is controlled but still able to show the piercing unravelling of a man suddenly stranded by a devastating life event.
Quincy Grant’s evocative music and soundscape underpins both the narrative and the emotional power of the production. So, too, does Chris Petridis’ lighting with its hints of shadows underpinning even the happier sections of the play. Kathryn Sprawl’s design is minimalist which helps underpin the everyday nature of Alex’s persona. What happens to Alex could happen to anyone in the audience. He is one of them.
This is a play about the very humanity implicit in trying to make sense of adversity, and this theme and a strong performance make this a play well worth seeing.
Sea Wall By Simon Stephens continues at Space Theatre at Adelaide Festival Centre, at various times, until Sun 21 Feb.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Images courtesy of Shane Reid