There must be a slight irony in going to watch a play with a theme about football, whilst vocally cheering and thanking the guy in the sky that Manchester United were playing away today (transport reasons).
Away From Home is a one man play, starring Rob Ward, which aims to tackle the issue (pun intended, I’m sure) of homophobia in football.
Diving straight in to the subject matter, I found it very refreshing that this story wasn’t afraid to be rough on the edges. By that, I mean that with the idea of gays in football (or many other ‘ball sports’ – no snickering at the back!) being such a massive taboo across the World, there is a case to be made for the softly softly approach, and coming at it from either a preachy angle, or a more wishy-washy angle. Instead, this production chooses to broach the subject via a male escort, a character that is instantly a little inflammatory, and doesn’t shy away from any sexual references between the escort and footballer.
I have witnessed a lot of gay characters in my time reviewing theatre and LGBT arts (books, movies, TV shows etc), and, also as a gay lad, I will, hand on heart, say that it was so refreshing to find a gay character that just wasn’t ridiculously OTT/stereotypical, for once! Here you had a guy who loved the football, going out for a pint, and discussing cars/making references to BBC’s Top Gear. A normal bloke. HURRAH! I found Kyle as a character to be believable and there was a real sense of empathy for his character. Very well scripted from his part.
In terms of the acting, I’m going to say that Rob Ward is absolutely fantastic – there is no other opinion that one could come to having seen his performance. As the only actor, he manages to narrate, and carry the story well, as well as chip in as other characters. Nothing too showy/gimmicky though, just some good old-fashioned acting. I would very much love to see him in more works as the next few seasons progress, and shall definitely keep my eye out for him.
The stage was well dressed and every prop placed was used, often on multiple occasions. Each time, Rob Wood managed to sell the same set as being somewhere completely different, and I didn’t find that the fixed set got in any way boring.
Ultimately, I found this to be a fantastic production, that really did try to get in to the minds of those who had been watching the performance without being so ‘in-your-face’ that it served to put people off (incidentally, I didn’t think so many old ladies would be interested in a play about gay escorts and closeted footballers – just goes to show me!!! Fringe crowds are the best! Plus there was a young teenager just behind me, so the show really did appeal to all ages). I, for one, would LOVE to see this play do the rounds in association with many of the ‘pride’ events staged across the country this summer .
Away From Home is 75 minutes in duration, and is not suitable for those offended by coarse language or partial nudity (if, like me, you’re a fan of both, get there at the start – the opening minutes are not to be missed!! 😉 ha!).
Below is the Press Release that came out for this tour, along with a list of dates and ticketing outlets – I can only implore you to go along, it’ll be the best couple of quid that you’ve spent this year, I guarantee it.
WORKING PROGRESS THEATRE COMPANY AND HARTSHORN HOOK PRODUCTIONS present
AWAY FROM HOME
BY ROB WARD & MARTIN JAMESON
SPRING 2014 TOUR
“What happened to the last footballer in this country who actually came out? He ended up hanging from the roof of a Shoreditch lock-up!”
The UK, 2014, The Civil Partnership Act is ten years old, same-sex marriage passes into law, it is a criminal offence to stir up hatred against people on grounds of their sexual orientation. After years of struggle the final stigmas have been removed. It is okay to be gay and being out isn’t an issue. And yet, homosexuality remains a taboo subject in English Football. Not one of Britain’s 5,000 professional players is openly gay. The national sport is leagues behind.
Hot on the heels of the retired Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger revealing he is gay, theatre producers Working Progress Theatre Company and Hartshorn Hook Productions announce the tour and London run of Away From Home, a visceral new play that tackles the issue of homophobia in English Football.
Kyle is comfortable with his life as a male escort until the day he is hired by a premiership footballer, and finds himself falling in love. But can Kyle maintain a relationship with a closeted footballer in a country where not one pro player is out? Can he go on pretending that the homophobia endemic in the game is nothing to do with him? Does he know what a relationship means, when, for him, sex has only ever been a transaction? Can he ever tell his friends – and his family – the truth?
Away From Home premiered last summer when it was granted the great honour of opening The 24:7 Theatre Festival, Manchester’s annual new writing extravaganza. It is co-written by Rob Ward and Martin Jameson, whom, with three decades experience in theatre, TV and radio (Casualty, Emmerdale, Holby City and numerous dramas for BBC Radio 4), also directs. Ward, taking the part of Kyle, is a founder of Working Progress Theatre Company. Playing to packed houses, garnering rave reviews and receiving standing ovations, Rob Ward won the Audience Award for Best Actor at 24:7 and the work took the North West Equity Vicky Allen Memorial Award for best production. It has also recently been nominated for three Manchester Theatre Awards – best new play, best fringe production and best fringe performance. The winners will be announced in March.
This production of Away From Home is supported by The Arts Council of Great Britain.
30th JAN- 1st FEB
THE LOWRY – SALFORD
30 Jan 20:00 1 Feb 17:00 & 21:00
0843 208 6000
CUSTOMS HOUSE NEWCASTLE
0191 454 1234
MARTIN HARRIS CENTRE MANCHESTER
0161 275 8951
THE HUB LEEDS
￼22 & 23 APRIL
NEW CONTINENTAL PRESTON
THE PIER WIGAN
SOUTH HILL PARK BRACKNELL
01344 484 123
DUBLIN GAY THEATRE FESTIVAL
00 353 87 9355 449
01332 59 39 39