They headline Sea Wall / A Life, but aside from the curtain call, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge are never onstage at the same time. But they’ve clearly become friends, joking when I meet them backstage about posing on the sofa in the style of those sultry ads for Burn This with Keri Russell and Adam Driver. As the more established movie star, Gyllenhaal acts a bit like the older brother to Sturridge’s more introverted, fidgety British sibling, though we’re grading on a curve here: They’re both nervous, fidgety people. Also, they are wearing matching gold chains.
The show started at the Public Theater in February and March and now has moved to Broadway with the same director, Carrie Cracknell. In the first of the two monologues, Sea Wall, by Simon Stephens, Sturridge plays a photographer who describes his relationship with his wife and father-in-law; then comes A Life, by Nick Payne, in which Gyllenhaal’s character talks alternately about his father’s illness and his wife’s pregnancy.
Both monologues reveal a tragedy at their centers, which might make them seem like acting exercises. As might getting two actors together to talk about what the other is doing onstage and how each of them got there. One thing Gyllenhaal is sure of is that the show has been subtly enlivened in its transfer. If nothing else, by the weather outside. “People referred to it as ‘stark,’&th