So simple. So beautiful. Almost perfect. When the audience enter the room for J. Fergus Evans Rove they are greeted by the cast of two sitting in chairs, chatting. Not the most epic intro, as Evans throws out song titles for Rihannon Armstrong to play. All the songs centre on the near mythical Rover Joe, an Irish adventurer traveling America. When he finally finds a song she doesn‘t know, the show begins. With a deft touch, Evans traces his family history through half-true anecdotes, folk music and spoken word poetry.
The show sneaks up on the audience. The first few minutes seem a bit clumsy, with introductions and explanations galore. Then the music starts. It is stunning. Rihannon’s instruments are a constant companion to Evans‘s storytelling and singing. She also provides an occasional foil to Evan, flat out arguing with him at one point, albeit in a friendly understated manner.
It is a show about stories, which litter it. Rover Joe is the main character of most of the songs, with the spoken word poetry bridging the gap between stories and music. It is heartfell poetry, about roving, family and how stories bridge the gap between generations. How they grow and shape those effected. At the heart of the show is a sense of loss, tempered with only the slightest hints of hope. It is the loss of a homeland and then the loss of romance in the new world.
This show is simply incredible. It is intimate and touhing, with a musical accompaniement that would be worth seeing, even without the beatiful poetry and expert storytelling. Evans spills his heart on the stage and watching him do so is a sight to behold. Do not miss this. 5/5
Review written by Ingimar Sverrisson.
Rove was on at the Battersea Arts Centre from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th February. Rove will be showing at the Albany Theatre from Tuesday 10th to Sunday 22nd March. For more info, visit here…