Football can be a right fickle game. One that not only finds thousands of people despising thousands of others for no other reason than the team they support, but also one that forces homosexuals within its ranks to hide their true selves for fear of career suicide. In the superb Away From Home, Rob Ward’s wonderfully drawn Kyle begins by not caring about this one bit. He’s a male escort who sees the funny side to the occupation, filling the entrancing hour we spend in his warm company with various quips, “I went limper than Brazil’s defence”. It is only when Kyle, a dedicated football fan who demands Saturdays off for games, meets a professional footballer as a client, that things take a turn for the worse.
This footballer, however, is but one character in a skilful myriad spun by Rob Ward, an electric presence able to tease out complex emotional entanglements in one breath, whilst boorishly cursing the opposition team at the top his lungs in another. Along with the athlete who dares not be caught with Kyle are his close friends who know about his sexuality and don’t care, his agent Vincent who levers it for financial gain, as well as his father who despises him for precisely for it.
With boyish good looks and a thick Scouse drawl, Kyle is excellent here, a character that enters the room naked and is never but entirely brutally honest as he recollects his career as well as dalliances with the famed footballer.
In the tight surroundings of Assembly George Square Studios, Ward’s physicality comes into play. The surrounding props of his apartment are like a ball at his foot, whether he’s screaming from the home stands of his sofa, or sodomising a bar stool whilst recounting recent employment with a high court judge.
For a one man show, the plot barrels along incredibly well, with a wrought father subplot only adding to the constant dialect of acceptance and dismissal that runs throughout. It is a shame then that the story leers a little to the fantastical towards the end, but this is but a minor complaint. Away From Home is a terrific story that is delivered with genuine emotion. A must see.
Away From Home is at the Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.