It is said that Eskimos have 50 different words for snow, so when the word ‘love’ can mean so many different things to so many people, how come we have only one word for it? I have experienced passionate love which is thrilling and all consuming, how love feels when it mellows from passionate into something perhaps not as exciting but altogether more intense, painful unrequited love which felt like I would never recover, the familial love for my children which makes my heart feel like it is swelling and about to go pop, deep love for close friends, a mad love of swimming in cold water in the winter time… I would even go so far as to say that I love pickled onion Monster Munch. However, you simply cannot compare ‘Monster Munch’ love with passionate love (if you can then you probably need some specialist help) so why are there not so many more words for love?
In his latest one man show for Tangram Theatre Company, James Rowland plays with these themes and welcomes us into his personal quest to find the right words for love. A Hundred Different Words for Love is the second of a trilogy of shows and is on at Tobacco Factory Theatres. Three years ago, James met the love of his life, but a year ago they broke up. It is clear from the word go that James is a wordsmith who is also very much in love with the written language, but maybe it all went wrong because he was simply unable to find the right words to express himself. Although James tell us that it is all OK because the story actually isn’t true, he weaves such an intricate and heartfelt narrative that it is hard not to have a hunch that his storytelling must come from a place of experience. This is a tale of love for his friends, of love that was doomed to fail, of his own shortcomings but also the shortcomings of the language he is so clearly in love with. I suppose so far I have painted a picture of something that is rather worthy and all a bit deep and meaningful, so it is worth noting that that I haven’t giggled as much at the theatre in a long time. It is clear that the audience all fell in love with James, (even if it was a kind of ‘one night stand’ kind of love) his eloquence, vulnerability, humour, word smithery and natural storytelling ability made this show an absolute joy to watch.
According to the write up, A Hundred Different Words for Love won the Best Show Award at the Vault Festival. Now, I have no idea what the Vault Festival is, but this news does not surprise me, because I thought it was bloody brilliant. If you are reading this review then it is too late as the show at the Tobacco Factory was on for two nights only, but if you get the chance to catch this show elsewhere, then do not hesitate. You will LOVE it.
Review by Karen Blake