Far From Home Close To Love @ The Kings Arms review – Life affirming exploration of loneliness

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Featured image: Benjamin Kelm

Benjamin Kelm explores the highs and lows of migration in his uplifting one-man play, Far From Home, Close To Love

Following the bold move of leaving his home in Germany to pursue a career in acting in New York, Benjamin experiences the full breadth of loneliness in the city. The show is held at The Kings Arms, the perfect venue for this intimate piece. In the expanse of the lofty venue, the audience is drawn close to Benjamin’s psyche. 

He greets attendees personally, a touching addition to the show. Later, we learn that tonight is the first use of lighting in the performance, really pulling together the moderate production. It’s a simple setup, comprising a single chair and stand. Reading as a theatrical depiction of his book, poetry extracts are scattered throughout. 

Benjamin sprinkles light humour throughout the show, recounting exotic characters encountered on the streets of New York. Detailing his first trip on the subway, he enters the audience to sing and dance in the guise of a homeless man who reminded him of Hagrid, from Harry Potter. The characterisation of these strangers is slapstick and stimulating. 

As his life in the city takes off, we learn of Benjamin’s growing isolation. Following a traumatic break-in to his flat, it becomes harder for the protagonist to grapple with the apparent loss of friends and loved ones. Despite joining walking tours in an attempt to find friendship, he becomes troubled by the loneliness that comes with living abroad. 

Resolve is found in the hope of his dreams. As he begins to actualise the experience and bravery it took to move away from home, we see Benjamin explore the joy and light in small interactions. It is a fantastically life-affirming conclusion, emphasising how beautiful and difficult it can be to discover yourself in unfamiliar surroundings.

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Jess Berry

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