The last twelve months have proved important when it comes to homosexuality in sports, and this year is on its way to being remembered as a turning point for the issue. In the United States, the first openly gay basketball player started in a NBA game, while a gay couple are already playing in their football – sorry, soccer – league. However on this side of the pond, although diver Tom Daley and footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger recently came out, admitting homosexuality seems to be the hardest thing a professional sportsman could do.
So what would happen if one of them was forced to come out because of incessant rumours on his sexuality? Odd Shaped Balls, a play written by Richard D. Sheridan and performed by Chris Sheridan, tries to find out, by exploring the difficulties faced by gay sports stars when the deepest aspects of their private life are suddenly out in the open.
Seen through the eyes of James Hall, a rising rugby star who is publicly outed by his ex, the play shows its protagonist looking back at the aftermaths of the revelation; from having to come out to his parents before they read it in the morning paper, to having to deal with his coach, teammates and the opposing team’s supporters. He is labelled as a role model when he doesn’t specifically feel like one, and then has to figure out how his personal relationships will evolve.
…manages to ask all the most important questions and tackle the biggest problems…
Chris Sheridan performs all the play’s roles: James, his father, coach, ex-lover, and teammates. He perfectly captures every character and gives us an honest look at what would happen if a player found himself catapulted into this kind of situation, and how he got there.
A serious and current theme, Sheridan’s play manages to ask all the most important questions and tackle the biggest problems that would likely arise in such a situation without making it tedious: the mood is lifted by an often comical look into the typical banter of male changing rooms. By the end you will find yourself rooting for James, and wishing that sooner or later coming out in sports will become much easier.