There is no end to a story, just a point where we choose to stop, James observes. This means that there can never really be any happy endings, but by opposition that when tragedy strikes, it is never really the end.
it is never really the end.
On a personal note, the end to my ten days of Edinburgh Fringe comes with Revelations as its concluding chapter, and so this acts as a reassuring reminder. I would rather this Revelations anyway, than the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Revelations is the third part in James’s ‘Friendship Circle’ series which began with Team Viking. All three parts were presented together at Vault Festival in London in March of this year, but the themes are expansive enough and the characters realised clearly enough that they can equally be enjoyed in isolation. If you have seen the preceding parts however, you will welcome the return of his friends to his story.
In this part, James becomes a sperm donor for his gay childhood friend and her wife. He explores the notion of faith, and its part in our lives. Even if we consider ourselves secular, he argues, we commit acts of faith every day. We go to the pub as a form of secular communion, we privately and vocally give thanks for the friends and family we have in our lives, we get into metal boxes which can travel at unnatural speeds and trust we’ll get out safely again at our intended destination. There is a bit of faith tucked up in all of these common experiences.
Even if we consider ourselves secular, he argues, we commit acts of faith every day.
We also witness James examine more clearly defined articles of faith, largely with where he left them as a centre piece, at a Christian holiday camp when he was in his teens. Although not a believer in God, he does not attack or dismiss faith – although he does make clear that acts of hate in the name of faith, such as homophobia, are under no circumstances, ever, ok. In a moving moment, audience members are called down to lay hands on him, as Christians he did not know once did in an act of prayer when he was young.
Word has got out now that James is an excellent storyteller, but I’ll join the ever-growing lists and say it again; he is excellent. Besides his little keyboard, mic and loop pedal his voice and a piece of chalk are his only storytelling tools. There is a wonderful and comforting familiarity about his opening line “Hello, I’m James, and I am going to tell you a story…” that makes you feel you are exactly where you need to be and listening, with rapt attention.
Word has got out now that James is an excellent storyteller.
James has grown more confident in his craft since part 1, his musical elements have become more developed (there are rounds and three-part harmonies) and he even has us joining in, but he has maintained his earnest charm. You can’t help but laugh and smile at his silliness, or even at his seriousness. It Is sometimes when we are at our most serious, he candidly observes, that we ought to laugh at ourselves the most.
Sometimes his lines of thought don’t quite gel together, but isn’t that true of real life? Who wants a story that ties up in neat little bows? If you do, this may not be the storyteller for you. One thing I can promise you though, is that this is his most exposing show yet: you have been warned!
Who wants a story that ties up in neat little bows?
And so, I will depart Edinburgh on a note of song, a song of poignancy and optimism. As the end of the festival approaches and goodbyes are in the air, I can whole heartedly recommend you do the same.
Aug 23-26, Summerhall, Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Run Time: 70 minutes.