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Saturday 11 April 2015

Review: Away From Home

Posted in: Performance
By Jacqui Stanford - 18th February 2015

Away From Home is at the Herald Theatre until 21 February

Actor Rob Ward’s whirlwind depiction of a whole host of characters, from a rent boy to his lover, his from a camp manager to straight best mates, is one thing you need to see for yourself this Auckland Pride Festival.

At the centre of the story in Away From Home is Kyle, a laddish escort and mad football fan who gets a client from a premiership team he hates, and falls for him.


The script is based on a possibly real tale Ward’s co-writer Martin Jameson once heard. It could be a little soap opera, but thanks to writing that sounds like it was plucked right from an English sports pub (or with different lingo, any pub in New Zealand) it rings true.

It creates a believable picture of what it might be like to be, and be involved with, a closeted footballer.

We know they exist, right?

But Kyle and his player aren’t the only characters Ward conjures up on stage.

With a flick to a different mannerism and voice he goes from laddish main character Kyle, to his camp manager, his mum, his dad, his straight mates, clients – all without for a second losing Kyle.

It’s impossible to underline just how flawlessly good his acting is. It’s mind boggling to walk away and think ‘there was just one person on that stage’.

Ward is like a one-man high energy football team, passing back and forth to himself and scoring goal after goal.

The writing and dialogue is crisp and real. A couple of the slices of Brit humour perhaps didn’t translate to most of the Auckland audience, but for the most part it was like being with a guy in a pub telling a really good yarn.

Sex is sex and Kyle talks about it with the humour you’d expect from a gay football fan, like describing an awkward encounter with a high court judge when he explains he goes “limp as the Brazilian defence”.

It’s not even too risqué, just straight up, just real. However the language is colourful and you do get to see him with his kit off – so this show definitely isn’t for younger or prudish viewers.

We all know there are so many ways to be trapped in a closet. For this footballer, his closet is guarded by his own self-doubt, from pressure from sponsors and an agent who is of course cool with his sexuality – but god forbid he should come out publicly.

But look at the environment he’s in – as the play points out the next two Football World Cups are in Russia and Qatar, which seems to symbolise a lot about how highly FIFA regards gay, and even human, rights.

Away From Home is thought provoking, hilarious, sweet and a subtle tribute to our straight mates.

But above all, Rob Ward is just magnificent. Someone give that man a beer.

Away From Home
Tuesday 17- Wednesday 18 February 6.30pm
Thursday 19 - Saturday 21 February 8pm
Matinee Saturday 21 February 2pm
Herald Theatre
Tickets here

(A panel discussion on ‘Stigma around Homosexuality in Sport’ will be held after the Wednesday 18 February show).
Jacqui Stanford - 18th February 2015

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