Review: James Rowland: Learning to Fly at the Harlow Playhouse

Entertainment / Sat 3rd Sep 2022 at 03:22pm

THIS is the fourth time, we have reviewed James Rowland at Theatre 2 in the Harlow Playhouse.

We last reviewed James in February 2020. A month later, we you know what happened next.

But when the Playhouse re-opened its doors in September 2021, he was one of those acts we were looking forward to reviewing again.

So here we are, two-and-a-half years later, and it is time for James Rowland.

It says on the tin that he has a captivating mix of comedy, music and storytelling.

True. There is an open-ness and honesty about his work that is so warm and so life affirming.

This time, we return to his home town of Manchester and suburban life in Didsbury.

We are told the story of elderly neighbour Ann and James, the sickly child.

James’ narrative arc is like an onion slowly being peeled. The less layers, the more we see.

We are drawn into this world, of music in the lounge and disasters in the toilet. Of a sickly schoolboy trying to buy drugs but all for quite charitable reasons.

In many ways, this is so traditional. The sixty of us sit in Theatre 2 and listen to James for seventy minutes. We laugh a lot, we smile a great deal and as always, there is a little bit in his story that resonates with our own lives.

We should celebrate the story tellers. We are all, in many ways, self referential but some have a lot to be self referential about. That includes the worlds of James Rowlands.

The show was called “Learning to Fly”. We do hope this Mancunian is not the Seldom Seen Kid.

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