This is a response I wrote for They Eat Culture, a brilliant arts organisation based at The Continental in Preston. You can find the original post here, and check out more about the company here. Anyway, enjoy!
With a Little Bit of Luck | Sabrina Mahfouz | The Continental, Preston | 5th May 2016
You can lose yourself in many ways. In a crowd of people, in captivating music, in a good story, in an atmosphere – you want to immerse yourself completely in the experience of just being present. That’s what With a Little Bit of Luck is. It’s present. It’s stories and people and beats and rhymes and vocals and everything you need to lose yourself. And that’s why it’s hard to describe. You can’t put something like that into words except for to say “go and see it. Now.”
It’s not a theatre space any more. There are no chairs, which seems to confuse some people. It’s simple but the lack of seating does wonders for the style of the piece. This is theatre you experience with your whole selves, with your hands and feet and swaying hips as much as your eyes and ears.
DJ Gabriel Benn and vocalist Martyna Baker do a couple of tracks to get us prepared for what’s ahead. We’re invited to sing along if we know the tracks, and I’m surprised when I do. Martyna’s voice is molten gold and the rhythms are flawless. If I had any doubts about spending the evening here, they vanish.
I end up stood with a group of lads who are there for the music. I can feel them radiating body heat in the small space. Each time the DJ starts live-mixing a new track, they whoop and start to move, one hand thrown to the sky in a two-finger gun salute. The beat is infectious, the voice irresistible. I can feel the smile on my face that only music and words between beats can sustain, and it stays there for the rest of the night.
Seroca Davis tells the story. She is the narrator and every character we meet along the way, accents thrown this way and that until you’re convinced there must have been more people on the stage at some point. The story works. It’s mundane. It’s a story you’ve heard before, a story that’s happened to you in one way or another. And we’re there. We’re with nineteen year old Nadia as she gets ready for a night out, with her as she battles with decisions that could affect the rest of her life, with her as she argues with her boyfriend.
In fact, there is nothing extraordinary about the components of this piece – I’ve heard most of the tracks before, I’ve been to club nights, I’ve listened to so many stories about so many night out that I’m unsure whether they happened to me or to someone else. But the way that everything is put together. That’s where the magic happens. And it happens to everyone. There is nobody in the audience that isn’t moving to the music and nodding along to the story.
I can feel the bass through the soles of my feet and the taste of synth behind my teeth, music and lyrics soundtracking an unforgettable night, not Preston 2016, but London in 2001, a night of avoiding revision and making decisions, a night of tight packed bodies moving as one with the music, a night of stories.
I walk through the cool evening air back to the train station. It’s quiet. Serene. I search through my iPod for music with a heavy bass, my feet moving in time to a beat that still echoes in my ears. I want to keep the night going, I want it preserved in amber. I feel untouchable. I feel connected.
I can’t stop smiling.