Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

17/02/2015 - 21/02/2015

Auckland Fringe & Auckland Pride Festival 2015

Production Details


DIRECT FROM THE UK comes AWAY FROM HOME, an award-winning production that delves into the taboo subject of homosexuality within English football. An edgy, moving, subversive one-man show laced with sharp humour, Away From Home holds its NZ première this 17 – 21 February at the Herald Theatre, as part of Auckland Fringe and Auckland Pride Festival 2015.

“Singularly brave and rather extraordinary” ★★★★ Independent

Kyle is comfortable with his life as a male escort until the day he is hired by a premiership footballer and finds himself falling in love. But can Kyle maintain a relationship with a closeted footballer in a country where not one pro player is out? Can he cope with love when, for him, sex has only ever been a transaction? Can he ever tell his friends – and his family – the truth? 

The Civil Partnership Act in the United Kingdom is now ten years old while New Zealand’s own Civil Union is just shy of 15 years since becoming legal. Same-sex marriage has recently passed into law for both countries and it is a criminal offence to stir up hatred against people on grounds of their sexual orientation. After years of struggle, the stigma is finally fading. To be gay is okay, being out isn’t an issue. Yet, homosexuality remains an off-limit subject in English football. 

With not one of Britain’s 5,000 professional footballers being openly gay, the national sport is leagues behind – an issue which sits in parallel to New Zealand’s own relationship to sexuality and the game. It was within this climate, and in the wake of the Football World Cup, Hartshorn-Hook Productions and Working Progress Theatre Company created this visceral new play, tackling the issue of homophobia in the beautiful game. 

Premiering at Manchester’s 2014 24:7 Theatre Festival, Away from Home has since gone on to play everywhere from London’s Jermyn Street Theatre to the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, visiting The Lowry, the Brighton Fringe, the York Theatre Royal, Derby Theatre and most recently the largest festival in the world – Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It now makes its way down under for its first international season at Auckland’s Herald Theatre. 

Co-written by Rob Ward and Martin Jameson, who between them share decades of experience in theatre, TV and radio (Casualty, Emmerdale, Holby City and numerous radio dramas for BBC Radio 4) it is Ward, founder of the Working Progress Theatre Company that undertakes the role of male-escort Kyle while Jameson is at the helm as director.

Playing to packed houses, garnering rave reviews including five stars from three times over, and receiving standing ovations, Ward won the Audience Award for Best Actor at 24:7 with the work taking the North West Equity Vicky Allen Memorial Award for Best Production. The show has also been awarded Best Play at 24:7, Best New Play at the Manchester Theatre Awards 2014, and for his performances at Jermyn Street Theatre, Ward has been nominated for a 2015 Off-West End Award for Best Actor. 

“A one-man masterpiece” ★★★★★ Broadway Baby 


A panel discussion on ‘Stigma around Homosexuality in Sport’ will be held post-show on Wednesday 18 February, 8pm.  

Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 February 2015 
Venue: The Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre 
Times: Tues & Wed 6.30pm, Thurs – Sat 8pm and Sat 2pm 
Tickets: Adult $35, Concession $30, Pride/Fringe Artists $19.00* (Service fees apply. Pride/Fringe Artists price only valid with Fringe ID card and only where door sales are available.) 
Booking: 0800 111 999 

*Contains nudity, strong language and adult themes.  Recommended for audiences 16yrs and over.  

Twitter: @AwayFromHome14
Twitter: @AucklandLive 

Auckland Fringe 2015 is an open access arts festival where anything can happen. The 2015 programme will see work happening all over the show, pushing the boundaries of performance Auckland wide from February 11 to March 1.

Auckland Pride is New Zealand’s largest festival celebrating the colourful and diverse LGBTIQ community. Auckland Pride Festival2015 runs from February 7 to March 1. For more information visit, or 

Theatre ,

A charismatic storyteller

Review by Janet McAllister 19th Feb 2015

Male sports homophobia the context for a juicy, gossipy — but subtle — one-man show.

This excellent one-man show from Britain is an intriguing tale, well told. Listening to Kyle – a male escort hired by a gay footballer – is like listening to juicy tabloid gossip from one who has really, delightedly, lived it.

However, this ain’t a frothy Pretty Woman for the sports crowd – not least because Kyle and his unnamed client can never be seen in public as a couple. That would risk the footballer’s career and possibly even his life (the next two World Cup locations of Russia and Qatar are described as “the two biggest fingers Fifa could stick up” while Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay professional British footballer, “ended up hanging from the f***ing roof of a Shoreditch lock-up”). [More]


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Fever Pitch

Review by Sharu Delilkan and Tim Booth 19th Feb 2015

Kyle: Who’re ya? Who’re ya? Who’re ya? So goes the football terrace chant setting Away from Home‘s pace and rhythms – a crisp production featuring Rob Ward’s striking performance; fast-paced writing – tackling acceptance, isolation, love, rejection and poignantly unexpected acceptance. Delivered by Ward with co-writer/ designer/director Martin Jameson. 

The initial similarity between the gladiatorial hooliganism of a football match, and the hedonism, spite and hurt of the lead character Kyle is clear. Subsequent attraction, love and happiness make for a Romeo and Julian (or Roma vs. Juventus) epic, which is both engaging and heartfelt. [More]


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Thought provoking, hilarious, sweet and flawlessly performed

Review by Jacqui Stanford 19th Feb 2015

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. [More]


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Hollow centre compromises undoubted talent and important themes

Review by Dione Joseph 18th Feb 2015

In New Zealand we’re fortunate enough to have our own gay rugby team. Yes, that’s right, the Falcons are made up of a majority of gay players and travelled to Sydney last year to represent NZ at the Bingham Cup. We also have legalised gay marriage and although there is still little evidence (public that is) of a gay All Black, hopefully we won’t have too long to wait. 

However, the story in the UK is quite different. Yes, they play rugby (and NZ does play some football) but the hallowed game over there is riddled with an endemic homophobia that is particular to its landscape, history and people.

Away from home chronicles that particular story and it’s easy to see why it has become such a landmark piece of theatre in the UK. Kyle, the immensely likeable ‘rent boy’, finds that despite his financial success (measured in crisp 20 quid notes) his attempts to keep things ‘professional’ has become compromised. In other words, he has begun to have feelings for one of his VIP clients. To complicate the matter further, this unnamed and unidentifiable celebrity figure plays for Kyle’s rival footy team, causing an immediate state of flux: should he be loyal to his team or to his new found feelings of attraction?

The extended metaphor runs right through the play, and creative team Rob Ward and Martin Jameson pad the narrative with a variety of other interesting, if somewhat predictable, sub-plots. There are Kyle’s parents, who are still grappling with the fact that their son is gay and find it an utter travesty that he would sell his body for services; Kyle’s best friend, McQueen, doesn’t know what Kyle does for a living; and of course his new boyfriend is unwilling to publicise their relationship and instead shows his face at posh clubs with leggy blondes. 

It’s a web of lies, deceit and heartbreak, especially because of the history of the sport in the UK (the paranoia around masochism and manly rituals is sodden with drunken behaviour and prescribed heteronomative expectations), and the suicide of Justine Fashinu following the public backlash hangs is the air like an unseen backdrop. 

The axle upon which the story grinds is the supremely talented Rob Ward, whose boundless energy enables him to perform this solo show while playing multiple characters, including his parents, footy mates, even a client or two and of course his star-crossed lover. Co-written with director Martin Jameson, the story is firmly one where Brits speak back to Brits with a distinctly British story. It’s almost necessary to transport yourself to the laneways of Brighton or the crowded bars in Manchester, or even to one of the huge sports bars in London, to truly appreciate the rich brogue and Ward’s anecdotal style of delivery punctuated with lashings of Brit humour and expletives. 

The story – despite its central message and deliberate non-agit prop stance – seems to come off as only slightly better than average. The production itself is slick and Ward is almost flawless is his seamless character transitions but there are more than a few forced emotional collisions, seemingly unmotivated responses, and the ending is perhaps the biggest disappointment with its rather vague and uncommitted conclusion. This is also slightly confusing, considering the formulaic opening with which the show begins.

The somewhat lukewarm response on opening night (in comparison to the multiple standing ovations the work has received in the UK) reflects the fact that, despite the extraordinary amount of talent displayed by Ward, and the undeniable importance of telling this story, it is simply a tad hollow in the centre. 


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