Away From Home at Jermyn Street Theatre
There is not a single openly gay player in the Premier League. To football enthusiast Rob Ward this seems odd; together with co-writer Martin Jameson (who also directs) he seeks to reconcile the two major aspects of his life: his sexuality and his passion for football.
Away From Home consists of an hour-long monologue delivered by Kyle (Ward), a male escort and football fanatic who is surprised when one of his clients turns out to be a star footballer. Ward delivers the monologue with extraordinary energy and deftness, switching nimbly between voices and changing his mannerisms when he is pretending to be the other characters in the story (though his Cockney accent is a little off the mark). Ward has a natural raconteurial ability and, even if the story is not that fascinating, his delivery really fires up the audience’s imagination and it is difficult not to hang on to his every word. It is very compelling to watch.
The simple star-crossed lovers plot is not remarkable. Or at least it shouldn’t be. But this is what the play is trying to provoke: that football and homosexuality do not sit comfortably side by side at all. And it is, admittedly, very odd to hear Kyle describe the laddish excitement and outrageous chants of a football match immediately before a graphic reenactment of him screwing some other guy.
Away From Home is successful in apposing the two worlds of football and homosexuality, and seeing how they clash. Both football and homosexuality have an accompanying culture; they have identifiable traits that form stereotypes and the attitudes of the public. While the characters that Kyle describes in the play adhere to stock types (the homophobic father, the peaceable mother, the supportive friend) the play does seem to challenge these stereotypes in an effective way. But it is difficult to see how the play will feed productively into a debate about homosexuality and homophobia in football – Kyle is not the ideal poster boy for the gay community. He is a rash, sex-hungry prostitute. And will the play attract an audience that might have the power to change opinion within football, an audience that is not composed of stereotypical (liberal, artsy, middle-class) theatregoers? Well, here’s hoping.
Away From Home is at Jermyn Street Theatre until 28th March 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Away From Home here: