Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Actor/writer James Rowland presents the second part of his Songs of Friendship trilogy, although we’re seeing it out of sequence, having already seen parts 1 and 3. Though it employs pretty much the the same techniques, it feels decidedly gentler and much more light-hearted than either its angst-ridden predecessor or successor.
The music also reflects this softer feel. Once again, Rowland uses a looping device to build up layers of melody, but the mellow-sounding keyboard he uses creates a lusher sound than we heard in either of the other parts.
In this episode, James’s best friend, Sarah, is getting married to her partner, Emma, while James himself is going through the throes of a passionate, but ultimately doomed romance with an un-named woman. As before, Rowland plays all the roles, flitting from one character to the next with ease. He effortlessly draws his audience into the story and there’s some nice interplay between him and us. The story is very funny in a Richard Curtis sort of way – something that Rowland happily refers to during the telling – and he scampers around the stage, dispensing observations and even, at one point, sporting a very fetching red dress.
For my money, this is the most successful chapter of the trilogy. It doesn’t try to shock or challenge too much, but just envelops me in a warm glow and sends me on my way with a smile on my face.