James Rowland's Team Viking (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

James Rowland's Team Viking

An idiosyncratic journey around friendship

If anything of Team Viking is true, James Rowland is a dangerous man. In order to make good on a promise made to his closest friend, he decides to give him a proper Viking burial, complete with burning boat (and inevitable criminal charges). It is a testament to Rowland's warmth, wit and humour that Team Viking becomes an eloquent paean to friendship and not the litany of a psychopath on a rampage.

Rowland uses humour to ease into the story – getting close to the edge with his observations on his grandfather's attempt to tackle Christmas dinner under the influence of senility – but finding a way to lighten the dark humour by acknowledging how inappropriate it might be. Once the story takes a deeper turn – a friend dying of a rare and terminal cancer – he manages the transition through juxtapositions of fun and anguish, and a rough, jagged, episodic structure.

Rowland's doubts about his behaviour – and the question of how much of the adventure is true – transcend any traces of arrogance or self-satisfaction: the constantly shifting energy enthuses even mundane moments with the kind of childish grandeur that possibly inspired the viking funeral in the first place. It's a virtuoso display of post-modern storytelling.

Summerhall, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23 Aug, 9pm £12.50 (£10); also as part of Songs of Friendship, 11, 18, 25 Aug, 9pm, £25 (£20).

James Rowland's Team Viking

  • 4 stars

Tangram Theatre Company and James Rowland Eight years ago, James' best friend Tom was diagnosed with heart cancer and told he had three months to live. Inspired by the 1958 Kirk Douglas movie Vikings, Tom's last wish was to be given a full viking burial. This is the remarkable, hilarious, heart-lifting tale of how James…