THESTRE REVIEW: Squad Goals ★★★★★
Dagenham and Redbridge FC, Dagenham East
Monday 14th September - Saturday 10th October 2020
An upcoming five-a-side match is looming, and two rival teams are gearing up to take the other down; Lexi (Lucy Aiston) is having a crisis, Ellie May Hague (Victoria Louise) is hoping the exposure will boost her following, it's a transfer and first for Assassina (Giorgia Falcoioni), whilst Mel (Yasmine Gazzal), well Mel just wants to be on the stage, rather than the pitch, dreaming of Drama Schools and singing 'On My Own' in Les Miserables. These women, and many others in each team, are a part of the larger picture; Squad Goals, a production centered around Woman's Football, set in an actual football ground of Dagenham and Redbridge FC.
Slowly coming through the other side of the current pandemic, the inventiveness of production companies these days are going beyond what we have known before, and there really is no better backdrop to support this show than the football ground itself; yes, the company are unable to actually use the whole pitch itself, but that doesn't matter when the intimacy between us, the audience, and the action from just beyond the stands, where AstroTurf has been kindly provided for our entertainment, is so integral to keeping us engaged and thriving for our chosen team, which has been decided depending on which coloured wristband you are given in the Performance (Note: I was given an Orange Wristband, which meant I was in support of Rainham, with Green Wristbands in support of Dagenham).
Keeping it immersive, we were thrown throughout the performance and led into smaller groups, all equally social-distanced, as we delved further into the attributes and reasoning behind some of the team's passions for the sport, whilst Mel of course was just excited to get hands on her £500 Skoda. Writer and Co-Director Michelle Payne has here put together a production which I could personally see your around the UK, changing the team names to local areas of venues around, because the production is clearly an adaptable market, and is sure to be a hit with any true football fan; it's enduring, relatable at times, and all together a fantastic time on the sidelines of the pitch.
As we geared up to the match itself, commencing straight after the 15 minute interval, from Dua Lipa to Jessie J, Little Mix to Lizzo, and Spice Girls to Girls Aloud, Nicola Chang's Sound Design crossed with Sundeep Saini's Choreography, was an absolute mastermind spectacular and interwove so many characteristics from each player, without there even being a ball in sight. It was all a true feat of genius that I would happily reply time and time again, as we cheered for our teams as loud as we could with the chants that we had learnt earlier on in the performance. I won't ruin here the winning score, or who was scouted in the end for further training, but the atmosphere was high come the final bows, with every member leaving with an absolute smile on their face (that is as soon as we left the grounds and could remove our masks!)
Overall, Squad Goals is a energy-induced, high adrenaline production that does not slow down on the sheer effort and drive that the whole company pushes for throughout, right up to the Onstage Swings / ASMs, who in turn keep us connected as groups, and become a beacon of support of guide us through the chanting, that'll bound to be stuck in your head as you edit the grounds.