Benjamin Kelm’s Far From Home Close To Love – 15 May 2024, Theatre Deli Sheffield

Review by Claire Taranaski.

I was lucky enough to recently be Benjamin Kelm’s first English language interview and even more lucky to be in the audience for his show last night, which transported the audience to his two years in New York in an intimate, at times moving yet laugh out loud one man show.

I say one man, but with the help of his tablet, lighting and his incredible stage presence and incredible acting skills, it did not feel like a one man show as he brought to life the characters he met, from the passengers on the subway to the shoe psychic.

Benjamin also made us feel like we were there with him and gave me flashbacks to my four night visit to the city nearly a decade ago, from the dread of customs queue to the bright lights of Time Square (I had blocked out the photo opportunity requests but it all came back to me) and falling in love with the perfect NY coffee shop.

But it was not just a show about the city but the feelings within us and we could all relate to of Benjamin’s loneliness in the busiest of places and the anxiety of new experiences and the human need to have friends and feel love.

I will admit I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to techniques to deal with anxiety and am not always a fan of live poetry but the fact that Benjamin used these during his trip and wrote the poetry whilst he was there, just made it more real and him more vulnerable as he opened his soul out to us.

I also think Benjamin could do a whole show about Miss Manhattan herself, a story so horrifying that you almost don’t believe it and led to me taking a break from writing this review to read more (I started with Audrey Munson – Wikipedia). This brief interlude in the show was told horrifyingly beautifully and respectfully and felt even more intimate than a show that could not have felt more so.

Like a trip to the Big Apple itself, Benjamin Kelm left us longing for more and wanting to come back whilst knowing you will always look back on the experience fondly. Unlike the Big Apple it also made us wish more people visited it.

There is only one more chance to see Benjamin’s show on Friday 17 May at the Ecetra Theatre, London (you can book tickets at Far From Home Close To Love — Etcetera Theatre ( but we hope Benjamin fulfils his ambition of taking his homage to life in New York to New York itself and whatever show he does next comes via Sheffield.

P.S. This is probably the last show I will see at Theatre Deli, Sheffield before it closes for good later this month. When I have discussed the venue’s closure with people everyone has said how much they love the venue and it’s shows but that is not enough if you then do not attend and support it. Sheffield is a creative city and has some amazing theatres but the majority are not designed to support one off shows like Benjamin’s and other contemporary art performances. This is the second such venue we have lost in the last couple of years so I urge you as fans of the arts (which I presume most of you are if you are reading this) to go out there, buy tickets and support your local arts venues before we lose them too.

I met our newest reviewer Jean-Pierre Taylor when we both in the audience for and reviewing Benjamin’s show. Please find Jean-Pierre’s review below.

As the first part of the title hints at, “Far from Home” explores themes of alienation, escapism and loneliness which truly encompasses part of the experience that comes with leaving where you are from, to somewhat blindly pursue a dream that lives in your heart, which no one can fully prepare you for.

But the remainder of the title, “Close to Love”, offers a different sentiment one of intimacy, self-discovery and hope.

You could be surrounded by seemingly content strangers, in a work environment or a coffee shop, and have to sit with the feeling of estrangement that travels with you. Not fully seeing how many people share that burden.

We have more in common with one another, at a second glance.

We’re all just walking each other home in the pursuit of our wildest dreams, which can be felt in the small, yet meaningful interactions we share and is a reminder that we are never really alone.

Be it in the awkward yet intimate eye contact we share with a stranger, or the senior citizen’s unrequited pursuit of someone way out of their appropriate dating pool! And also, in ourselves, when we muster the courage to sit with our complex feelings and unpack them, we become our ally in the process.

I was instantly drawn into our hero’s world with his relatable self-affirming ritual, setting the play’s tone as a reminder of how important our mindset is when venturing into the unknown and allowing ourselves to be in the present moment.

This play is a beautiful reminder to embrace the experiences that shape our character and lead us down the path of growth and self-discovery.”

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