Review: Not A Game For Girls at Stantonbury Theatre
Review Not a game for Girls

Review: Not a Game For Girls

From humble beginnings at a munition factory to 50,000 plus crowds and an FA ban lasting fifty years, Not a Game for Girls follows the trials of the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team as they raise funds and eyebrows on and off the pitch. The play written by Benjamin Peel and presented by Pepper’s Ghost Theatre Company kicked off at Stantonbury Theatre last night (16/05)  in style with a most excellent cast including some from the MK College of Performing Arts.

Founded as a work’s women team at Dick, Kerr & Co in Preston, Lancashire, with the intention to raise morale and motivation during wartime, the team played in charity matches raising funds for war veterans to a mixed crowd. We see the mix of popularity and prejudice,the refusal to conform and be quiet, the social attitudes of the day and the outrage from the football association itself. “The game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged” FA 1921.

Directed and produced by Rosemary Hill, the unfolding tale of trials and triumph tackles the archaic attitudes beautifully and sympathetically. As the girls compete to be the best, the camaraderie and connection is palpable. Heartfelt, humorous and poignant, the characters flow from scene to scene with great staging and movement. The flow of the play works really well considering the depth and enormity of the story. Hill has cleverly mastered the play to tell the story but not be laborious and lengthy, each scene a snippet but delivers the narrative perfectly. Such a packed history could so easily have been lost in a complicated retelling, but Peel, Hill et al delivered splendidly.

not a game for girls

Charleston-esque skits depicting the management at games were truly fantastic as were the marvelously crafted choreographed game scenes !
A comical and jolly element works delightfully amidst the poverty and post war troubles, the bias and detriment and the curtailment of women of the era. Yet despite all the bleak realities of the time, utter joy and love spills onto the pitch of Preston and beyond. The girls had allies and abilities, they took up space, made themselves heard and got themselves seen.

A powerful yet somehow gentle nostalgic performance, but not missing the point nor the integrity of an honest piece of art. I found Not A Game For Girls just delightful, really charming and enjoyable and a credit to the trailblazers of the Dick, Kerr Ladies.
Entranced by the story I’ve gone down a glorious rabbit hole of reading and the play is just the beginning of the world of women in football, in sport, in life, taking their rightful place and owning it.

A special note to Jasmine Bromme ( Lily Parr ) for the most magnificent and magnetic performance. Lily Parr “trailblazer with a ‘kick like a mule’ ” BBC Sport.
The legacy lives on !

Showing at Stantonbury Theatre
Friday 17 May – Sunday 19 May
Tickets £15
Concessions £12

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