Every year thousands of people flock to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world's largest arts festival. Wading through the hundreds of shows can be daunting. For Fringe festival attendees in 2014, one of the plays to see is Away From Home.
Away From Home is the story of Kyle, a young gay man, football fan and prostitute. He picks up a closeted football player as a client and the relationship turns serious. Kyle'sHis new relationship is juxtaposed againstwith his strained relationship with between him and his family. The play examines the personal toll of homophobia and pressures men face, even today, to remain in the closet.
Rob Ward's stunning solo-performance brings to life this heart-aching tale of a young gay man's journey to self acceptance. The play, co-written by Ward and Martin Jameson, is simple yet haunting. It's everything someone should want to see at The Fringe.
While its easier than ever to be out and honest about who you are, homophobia and pressures to remain in the closet are still abundant in society. From gay bashings and street harassment to major political parties voicing proudly their intolerance of even basic legal equality, the message is received loud and clear: come out at your own risk.
In the case of Away From Home, this theme is examined in two ways. The first, and most prominent is the footballer who stays in the closet for his entire career. This reality is played out repeatedly: Public figures are told that if they are honest about who they are, they will likely sacrifice their career. Whether it's a politician who might lose reelection, an actor who may no longer be cast, or in this case, a sports figure who may not be signed and could lose endorsement deals, being oneself is a career killer. But while coming out may have a toll on a career, remaining in the closet can have devastating effect on a personal life. That is the hard reality examined in this play. A closeted public figure who is legitimately worried about his career can't also fully embrace the person he loves, and the person who is ultimately left battered and bruised is the hidden person who loves him back.
The second relationship in Away from Home is between Kyle and his father. Strained relationships with parents is not new territory, but this lovely play sheds new light in an unusual way. The homophobic father is familiar to many; begrudgingly, if at all, admitting that his son is gay. And that pain of not being accepted by his parents takes a personal toll on Kyle, as we experience him imagining a scenario where he, his father, and his best friend are in the same room in an uncomplicated fantasy of familial love. Its simple to want what most people have, but we see and mourn the loss for Kyle, and for far too many gay men who know their simple dreams will never become reality. But the most heartbreaking moment comes when Kyle's father says exactly what Kyle wants to hear, but Kyle is too hurt by the strained relationship and years of rejection and pain to hear that part of his his dream come true.
Away From Home is a beautiful play. Fringe-goers shouldn't miss this powerful new piece. Whether you are gay or straight, a football fan or not, and you believe art should be a mirror to society or a hammer with which to shape it, Away From Home is a show worth seeing.