Note: This review is from the 2017 Fringe

Offside is a performance that looks at the history of women’s football in Great Britain and highlights the difficulties that women footballers have encountered in the past and also the present. The play weaves together three different narratives. The audience is told the story of two aspiring female footballers who are striving to play first team football for England. Offside also bestows two historical stories. Carrie Boustead was a black Scottish female footballer who played in the late 1800s. Lily Parr played football during and after the First World War and drew crowds of over 50,000 people. All three stories are played out on stage with rhythmical dialogue, expressive movement and flowing lyricism.

Daphne Kouma takes on a range of different identities during the 75-minute performance. She plays a commentator, a variety of coaches and a plague of journalists who ask our two main protagonists probing and pointless questions about their private life. Tanya-Loretta Dee plays the role of Mickey. She is a young talented black female footballer who dreams of playing for England. Her idol is Carrie Boustead and she draws motivation from this inspiring figure from the past. Mickey is friends with Keeley (played by Jessica Butcher). She also has dreams of wearing the England shirt and draws inspiration from the story of Lily Parr. Both performers embody the historical and contemporary characters to highlight the injustices that women footballers experience. We learn that the Football Association banned football for women for trivial reasons. We also learn that in the past the game was almost as popular for women as it was for men and that this history is now almost forgotten. The media obsession with Mickey and Keeley’s private life shows that their obvious talents on the pitch and their commitment to the sport seems to be secondary to the fact that they are women.

Award winning poets and playwrights Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish have collaborated to bring the three brilliant stories that are present in the play to life. Both the writers have a background in spoken word and performance poetry and this is apparent in the flowing lyricism of the script. The words are brilliantly delivered by the cast and the pounding rhythms of the language showcase the power, passion and unabashed angst of the characters. The story is inspirational and the performance was exhilarating and impassioned.