"I'm aware there isn't much art made about love, so I thought I'd nip in and nail the definitive article before anyone else could."
A winningly teasing storyteller who never lets on what's fact or fiction
So jokes James Rowland, the one-man wonder behind last year's spellbinding Team Viking, an ode to a lost friend and their final request for a Viking funeral. This time he's pulling the heartstrings with a potentially-autobiographical love story, as James falls for an unnamed woman in the run-up to the incoming union of his two closest friends.
Taking place in 'the same universe' as his previous show (playing for a single night on August 16th), A Hundred Different Words for Love charts the joys, pains, and uncertainties of love in a lo-tech but far-reaching monologue. Aside from some light piano accompaniment, James' endearing voice is the only thing needed to carry you on his well-crafted journey, deploying the kind of bumbling sweetness and British awkwardness befitting a self-described "son of Richard Curtis".
Decked out in a crumpled suit and sneakers – with a smile to match his sizeable beard – Rowland has the air of a passionate lecturer or tour guide, if not a chummy Doctor Who impersonator. He freely admits his reputation as "a wordy c**t", but the result is a silly, well-worded and fully accessible triumph. Rowland veers deftly between fond observations of human behaviour and grander themes of love, loss, and intimacy – all bolstered by a winningly teasing storyteller who never lets on what's fact or fiction, letting the audience's imagination do the work. All the while, he shows a refreshing awareness of the 'heterosexual and socioeconomic norms' that portrayals of romance are so routinely trapped in.
The ancient Greeks had six different words for love, but Rowland toys with the language around love to reach an understanding beyond mere words. Whether you're pre-empting, experiencing, or recovering from a relationship, A Hundred Different Words for Love will find a way to break (and mend) your heart.