BWW Review: TEAM VIKING, Tron Theatre, Glasgow
For tonight's performance, the auditorium had been filled mostly from the back and James came over to ask if any of us wanted to move down to the front row. I agreed, after ascertaining that there would be absolutely no audience participation. He was true to his word and Team Viking is definitely a theatre performance best seen up close.
To start the show, we are told that James is simply going to tell us a story and that all of it is true. That description doesn't quite do this piece justice as it is hard to imagine better storytelling. The staging is simple because this tale doesn't need anything fancy. Dressed in a funeral suit and occasionally a viking helmet, James Rowland uses every inch of the stage as he takes us through his life with his best friends.
Five years ago James' best friend Tom was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma at 25 years old. This particular type of cancer is a death sentence and Tom knew he had limited time. Alongside their other best friend Sarah, the three used to play a game of as children where they would reenact the 1958 movie The Vikings. Tom makes his two friends promise to give him the send off he deserves- a viking funeral.
Although the blurb for this piece describes that it is the true story of how they did give their friend that funeral, as he talks about their friendship I found myself desperately hoping for a different outcome. That there was some sort of mistake when writing up the show description and Tom survived. James Rowland is very talented at making sure you are completely invested in these people and their wellbeing. He has the ability to set up a beautiful story and then add a single line that will make your heart stop.
There's a bit of an attitude that you have to laugh in these situations. James gives a very physical demonstration of how he stole his friends body (which apparently isn't illegal) from the chapel of rest. I don't think any of the story has been sugar-coated as there are some graphic and unpleasant details about handling a corpse.
Team Viking is a pretty sad show but it has moments of absolute hilarity and ends with a clever twist that leaves the audience questioning what they've just heard.
Team Viking is at the Tron Theatre until September 21st and then on tour around the UK.