Michael Essien I want to play as you at Contact

Andrew Anderson

Ahilan Ratnamohan: Michael Essien I want to play as you… at Contact Theatre, Manchester 24 March 2017 Tickets from £10.00 — Book now

It’s not often you see a show billed as football-dance-theatre. However, for a soccer-mad city like Manchester – whose largest stadium is nicknamed ‘the theatre of dreams’ – it makes sense. But what happens when those dreams turn into nightmares? Ahilan Ratnamohan’s new work Michael Essien I Want to Play as You at SICK! Festival finds out.

Football is everywhere. Turn on the radio, switch on the TV or pick up a newspaper and you’ll most likely find yourself face to face with football. It’s also big business: England’s top 20 clubs generated more £3.4 billion of revenue in 2014-15 between them, while the UK’s highest paid footballer Paul Pogba makes more than £15 million a year.

All that money draws players to the UK from all over the world, including a number from West Africa like Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast, Nigerian John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien from Ghana. As a result of their success, football is now seen by some in Africa as a way out of poverty. However, while Drogba, Mikel and Essien are all multi-millionaires, many would-be West African footballers are being exploited; there is growing underclass of players living in poor conditions, on terrible wages and with little hope of ever being signed by a big team.

In Michael Essien I Want to Play as You… we hear from six West African footballers, who all came over to Europe to try and make it. Through a devised performance they bring the audience into the covert world of African footballers abroad, from dodgy contracts to visa politics. It’s a powerful performance that proves a point: wherever you see someone making indecent amounts of money there is probably someone somewhere else suffering for it.

Hopefully Ratnamohan’s play will raise awareness and lead to change, and perhaps some of the big names in the game will offer to help – they can certainly afford to.

Ahilan Ratnamohan: Michael Essien I want to play as you… at Contact Theatre, Manchester 24 March 2017 Tickets from £10.00 Book now

What's on at Contact Theatre

Where to go near Michael Essien I want to play as you at Contact

Music venue
The Deaf Institute

The Deaf Institute is a vibrant gig venue and nightclub for which it is well worth taking a jaunt out of the Northern Quarter.

Catalog Bookshop

Find Peter and his Christiania cargo bike around All Saints Park, a hop, skip and a bunnyhop from Manchester Poetry Library.

Bar or Pub

Sandbar, just off Oxford Road in Manchester, is a well-loved watering hole, with a great selection of ales and some eccentric seating.

Johnny Roadhouse store
Johnny Roadhouse

Buffeted by fried chicken outlets, legendary musical instrument emporium Johnny Roadhouse has been serving the local music community for over 50 years.

Café or Coffee Shop
Eighth Day

Eighth Day is a co-operative shop that sells ethically-sourced food, wine and cosmetics. There’s also café that serves hearty, healthy meals in the basement.

Event venue
The Proud Place

Based in the heart of Manchester on Sidney Street, The Proud Place houses The Proud Trust and serves as a community hub for the wider LGBT+ population across Greater Manchester and beyond.

What's on: Theatre

Sweet Dreams at Aviva Studios

Multi-sensory and surreal, Sweet Dreams is a brand-new storytelling experience that takes audiences on a journey through food, appetite and desire.

from £7.50
Open Air Theatre at Grosvenor Park
Open Air Theatre at Grosvenor Park

Expect another fabulous season of open-air theatre when The Gangs of New York, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Importance of Being Earnest play Grosvenor Park this summer.

from £6.75

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.