James Rowland’s one-man show, Learning to Fly, is engaging, heartwarming and very funny. He is a gifted storyteller with a tender heart and a grand sense of the absurd. After a tough week, he really lifted my spirits.
His tale is personal. It’s about growing up and having an unusual bond with the old lady across the road. He lives it on stage and so do we. There’s something about his face and expression that transforms into a twelve-year-old with all its innocence that I found charming.
He embodies the three characters he portrays with simplicity. It’s not a show of gymnastic characterisation, it’s a confessional, sharing a poignant and funny episode between people from different age groups, growing closer over classical music and cups of milky strong tea.
Some people had seen him before and were back for more. He’s a comedian of sorts and works with his audience. I would definitely see him again. Dressed casually in a vest with straggly hair and a fulsome beard, James Rowland is not out to woo you. He’s simply being himself. And he’s very likeable.
The juxtaposition of classical music and storytelling works perfectly. Light on his feet, James is a joy to watch as he utilises the whole stage and talks directly to the audience. I could see the other characters, even though they weren’t there.
Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield
Reviewed: 17th November 2023
North West End UK Rating: