Review: Revelations by James Rowland

Tale of unconventional pregnancy is the third in Rowland's captivating trilogy

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 10 Aug 2018

James Rowland is a magical storyteller. He weaves tales of wonder and woe using just his imagination and a loop pedal. But before Revelations—the third in his "Songs of Friendship" trilogy—begins, he captivates the audience with an earnest plea to record a song for his niece’s birthday. It reveals the person behind the narrator.

Interactivity is inherent to Revelations and Rowland approaches each instance with positive encouragement. Individuals pray in tongues and catch him when he falls. Everyone clamours at the play’s conclusion. A transcendental din of noise results in an ear-splitting outburst of raw emotion. Rowland is a preacher, the Revelations sermon magnified by how vividly he brings detail to life.

As well as faith, Revelations is a personal account about being a sperm donor for his best friend and her wife. Emma and Sarah make appearances in previous shows – he returns to characters that his followers know well. Rowland is an adorable puppy-dog, eager to please and energised by the little joys of life. Stories about snow days and semen are vivid anecdotes of pride and love. Foxes and maternity leave become life-changing downturns. As he remembers, Rowland breaks down. Time stops. The 73 bus, or the pooling blood from a dying body, do not.

The two disparate strands, a religious upbringing and impending parenthood, are brought together by Revelations in a blinding flash. All there is to do is pray and hope and smile. Rowland’s journey leaves his audience fervently doing all three.