When Covid put Michelle Payne’s drama about women footballers on hold, she turned it into an outdoor immersive drama and local club Dagenham & Redbridge pitched in At Dagenham & Redbridge FC, my friend is chosen to take a shot on goal. A masked crowd watches on. She makes good contact with the ball but it’s made of sponge and flies into the keeper’s capable hands. Anyway, this isn’t a proper match. We’re partway through Squad Goals, an immersive theatre show about women’s football. The performance follows the fictional lives of a group of women football players in Essex, who put together two five-a-side teams before playing against each other in the stadium. For the first half, the crowd are split into teams: Dagenham Daggers and Rainham Wanderers. I’m placed in the former and we’re taken to different parts of the ground for our pre-match huddles. The actors get us jogging on the spot and chanting at the enthusiastic behest of Assassina (Alice Gruden), the squad’s Italian transfer.
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