Revelations @ Summerhall

The third outing for a charming storyteller proves to be an uplifting, emotionally draining and vital story of love and doing the right thing

Review by Jon Stapley | 13 Aug 2018

This is the third Fringe outing for James Rowland’s brand of lyrical storytelling. His previous shows Team Viking and A Hundred Different Words for Love deservedly picked up a host of accolades, and this latest offering, simply titled Revelations, is directed again by Daniel Goldman, and follows on more or less directly from the other two.

Not that you need any prior knowledge going in. This is an entirely self-contained tale, the story of what happened after Rowland’s best friends Sarah and Emma asked him for his sperm. It’s a perfect fit for Summerhall’s Anatomy Lecture Theatre, with Rowland comfortably orating to his audience while standing in front of a blackboard on which is written the lyrics to a simple but hopeful song. Music runs through the show consistently, used to denote shifts in time or place, or sometimes just to make you feel better. And what better function is there for music than that?

It’s a story dealing with love of all kinds, a story of frustration, mistakes, hope and tragedy. Rowland reveals everything to us – quite, quite literally (nudity warning) – and his story doles out its emotional punches at perfectly judged moments. Rowland knows how to get you on the hook and keep you there, knows how to instantly create tension with a well-deployed word, and the exact moment to diffuse it. You’ll catch yourself leaning forward, deeply invested in the fate of these people you’ve only heard about, never met. This is the kind of storyteller everyone secretly wishes they were; the kind that overconfident pub bores imagine themselves to be. It’s seriously impressive stuff. Rowland keeps you on the hook right into the chaotic, noisy, triumphant climax.

Revelations, Summerhall - Anatomy Lecture Theatre, 1-26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 12pm, £10-12

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