REVIEW: Away from Home (Auckland Fringe and Auckland Pride Festival)

Premiere League in the spotlight.

Fever Pitch [by Tim Booth and Sharu Delilkan]

Premiere League in the spotlight.
Premiere League in the spotlight.

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.

The writing is edgy and angry, sometime stark with uplifting moments of warmth, as if Nick Hornby had written Trainspotting or Joaquin Phoenix starred in About a Boy.

Ward switches effortlessly between two hattricks of characters although I’m not entirely sure the ‘swizzle’ between some portrayals was necessary, despite the versatile actor that Ward is.

I wanted the audience to respond more as they seemed rather muted to start with, almost like their team was 1-0 down in a steady drizzle – but they revived in the ‘second half’ just in time for a warm and well-deserved enthusiastic applause at fulltime.

I liked the simplicity of the characters and the fact that whitlst the story had shocking intentions, the plot and emotional themes were universally accessible to anyone.

The set was simple and almost a bystander to Ward’s movement and action. However the placement of these simplistic elements were just so, enabling Ward to use the stage to its full effect. The lighting was equally understated but decidedly effective – used sparingly to create the desired mood and effect.

The programme encouraged the audience to talk to the creative team afterwards as they obviously value feedback and comment. Ours would be: Despite Jameson’s self-depreciating ‘half-baked idea’, Away from Home is most definitely a play that has depth, humour, passion and grit, in equal measure. Go see it!

Away from Home Two plays as part of the Auckland Fringe and Auckland Pride Festivals at Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre until 21 Feb. Details see Auckland Live

SEE ALSO Theatrview.org.nz review by Dione Joseph

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