Team Viking review, Just the Tonic, Edinburgh – ‘Heart-lifting and incredibly moving’
James Rowland’s debut solo show, Team Viking, is as accomplished a piece of storytelling as you could hope to see. To call it a comedy about friendship, mourning and terminal illness – which on one level it is – would in no way convey what a joyous thing it is.
After a close friend he grew up with is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, Rowland decides to fulfil his last wish: to give him a proper Viking funeral, complete with flames and boats – the works (they were both fans of the Kirk Douglas film, The Vikings, as kids).
Rowland completely understands his material and its capacity to move an audience. He’s an incredibly warm and amiable presence on stage and never overdoes does the pathos. In fact, given that the play features not one, but three funerals, it’s an unreasonably funny piece of writing.
You will laugh. You’ll laugh a lot. But Rowland also has the ability to undo you with a single line – don’t be surprised to find yourself crying as well.
Daniel Goldman’s production is very simply staged – it’s basically just Rowland on stage in a poorly blacked-out room wearing a funeral suit and occasionally breaking away from his story to live-loop a song. It doesn’t need to do anything else though. It’s a moving story, beautifully told, and his show is a real fringe find.
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