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100 different words squeezed into storyteller James Rowland's lexicon of love

A hilarious and uplifting story of romance, despair and friendship that will break your heart before putting it back together again is coming to Harlow Playhouse this Friday (June 7, 8pm).

A Hundred Different Words for Love is a 60-minute one-man show written and performed by James Rowland, a Fringe First Award and Vault Festival Award winner, who WhatsOnStage have described as a "master storyteller".

James said: "I wrote A Hundred Different Words for Love because I realised that there wasn't much art made about love, so I thought I'd nip in and to the definitive work before anyone else could...Well no. Obviously love is an ubiquitous subject, I just wanted to make a story will all of the fun and heartache of a good rom-com but with none of the unreality."

A Hundred Different Words for Love is James' story of falling in love and landing broken-hearted. Three years ago, he met the love of his life. A year ago, they broke up. Through a gripping monologue, James takes his audience through his inner most thoughts, and his experience as Best Man of Honour at his friends Sarah and Emma's wedding.

James Rowland in 100 Different Words for Love. David Levenson (11051276)
James Rowland in 100 Different Words for Love. David Levenson (11051276)

Throughout the hour-long show, James embarks upon a quest: to find the words to make sense of love.

He said: "A Hundred Different Words for Love is about my best friends getting married and a relationship I had in between their engagement and their wedding.

"It's about love in all of its messy, awful, wonderful ways, friendship and surviving a sometimes painful world. There's also jokes, and a song - so hopefully something for everyone!"

While some actors may find it intimidating to be the sole-performer on stage, James takes the experience in his stride. "I've got very used to it now having performed alone over two hundred times with this show," he said.

"Of course it is both daunting and exciting, but it's easy to deal with that as soon as there's an audience with me, I'm not really on my own, I'm with everyone else in the room as well."

James' piece does not solely focus on romantic desires - platonic love takes its share of the spotlight too. When critic Natasha Tripney reviewed the show for The Stage, she wrote that the part in which he focuses on his best friend's wedding is "beautifully written and delivered".

James said: "When it comes to talking about love, the focus is so often on romantic love - especially romantic love 'won' - as if it's the only kind of love that really matters.

"I don't think that's how the world actually works and so I try and tell a story that better reflects the way my life and the lives of people I know are."

A Hundred Different Words for Love is intended to give theatregoers a more authentic portrayal of the highs and lows of love, in all its forms, a topic which high-budget Hollywood films can sometimes cheapen.

James said: "I created the show with a director, Daniel Goldman, and generated the material by improvising the story for friends in their flats, giving them wine, apologising, listening back to what I'd done and then making it better.

"It's the same process I've used for my last few shows, I'm not sure it's very orthodox but it seems to work for me."

James Rowland in 100 Different Words for Love. Trish Thompson Photography (11051278)
James Rowland in 100 Different Words for Love. Trish Thompson Photography (11051278)

This is not the first time James has teamed up with Daniel. In the actor's debut one-man show, Team Viking, the pair dealt with another difficult piece of subject matter - bereavement.

It told the story of a friend diagnosed with heart cancer whose last wish was to be given a full Viking burial, and James' methods to give him the send-off he wanted.

"This [A Hundred Different Words for Love] is a sequel to Team Viking which I've already toured nationally and had a lovely response at Harlow Playhouse so I'm hoping this one goes down just as well," James said.

"It's a real privilege to be able to bring these stories around the country. They work as standalone shows, but build on the lives of the same group of people, so anyone coming back will hopefully get even more out of it."

Catch A Hundred Different Words for Love at Harlow Playhouse on Friday, June 7 from 8pm. Tickets are priced at Pay What You Can. For further details, visit: harlowplayhouse.co.uk/

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