Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Away From Home @ New Century House, 23.07.13

Football and homosexuality are like City and United fans: the two don't mix. Insulting players from the stands with gay epithets is still common, the first openly gay professional footballer in the modern era hung himself and the 2022 World Cup is being held in a country where homosexuality is illegal. With this in mind, how would a drama about a young man in a relationship with a closeted Premiership footballer fare? The answer is that Away From Home in one of the best written, performed and directed dramas I have seen. Normally I take notes during a play I am reviewing, but by the end I realised I hadn't written anything beyond the first five minutes; I’d been too caught up in it.

In Away From Home, Kyle (played by co-writer and lone actor Rob Ward) talks an un-seen partner through his relationship with a professional footballer who plays for his club’s rivals (referred to as “the scum” throughout). But this is no ordinary relationship, as the footballer is in the closet and no one can know. Oh, and they meet as John and rent boy, not as equals. Add to that the pressures being brought on Kyle by his family and catastrophe never seems far away. But, such is the heart of this play, nor does hope.

Littered with great one-liners, such as describing a girl as so clever that “she's re-taking her first year of uni” and telling the crossbar to “fuck off” during a game, the play is funny as well as thoughtful, dealing with difficult relationships while also poking fun at them. The directing (by co-writer Martin Jameson) sees Kyle move smoothly around the stage, with each re-enactment running seamlessly into the next – a scene set in hospital was particularly striking for its simple brilliance.

There is a lot you can take away from this play: the power of friendships, the difficulties that families go through, the pressure of keeping a secret. But most of all I think it is that we are all capable of growing as people, so long as we keep our self-respect, and there is always hope that conflicts can be resolved. Well, most conflicts: I’m still not sure that City and United fans will be hugging come match day anytime soon.

Words: Andrew Anderson.
Image: Courtesy of 24:7 Festival.

Away From Home's run concludes on Thursday 25th July, while the 24:7 Festival continues until this Friday, 26th July.

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