Review: Christian Lee/ Flea Circus/ Sabrina Mahfouz at Platform 33

Sabrina Mahfouz. Photo Credit: Naomi Woddis

Christian Lee/ Flea Circus/ Sabrina Mahfouz at Platform 33
(Servants Jazz quartrs, Dalston, 26th April 2012. Review by Jeanie Barton)

The Servants Jazz Quarters, just to the rear of The Vortex on Bradbury Street in Dalston was completely packed. We had trouble finding it, but we were perhaps the only ones. A plain entrance door with small brass letters SJQ above led us into a warm bohemian underground retreat, where the young, hip, artistic crowd had assembled to see Platform 33’s unusual triple bill of magic, poetry and jazz, a showcase for emerging artists programmed by popular host Chloe Booker.
Each act has approximately half an hour to perform a little of what they do and explain how they came to be doing it; Christian Lee went from working in holiday camps and as a dancer on cruise ships to being an in demand magician and comedian; playing to the likes of Tony Blair’s family at Number 10 and for Tom Cruise’s son’s birthday party. He impressed us most with his entrance of inflating a surgical glove and popping it to reveal a bottle of red wine inside. I could have watched him do that all night.
Jack Davies provided the jazz component, his quartet comprised of himself on trumpet, Rob Cope on soprano and bass clarinet, Aidan Shepherd on accordion and James Opstad on double bass. They were giving a pre-launch airing of their new album Flea Circus; a collection of experimental original numbers combining unusual time signatures and with folk/classical features and jazz improvisation. The overall sound brought to my mind the music of Nina Rota for the more bizarre Federico Fellini films and the recently commercially successful Gotan Project. Alongside Davies’ compositions – which included a sad lament based on two of his cats dying from Aids – their interpretation of Mahler’s Symphony no 1 was bewitching. (See Chris Parker’s review of Flea Circus).
The evening was rounded off by performance poet Sabrina Mahfouz a stunning petite cockney brunette who still has an Egyptian passport, preventing her from pursuing a career at the Ministry of Defence she found herself working as a waitress in strip clubs and night clubs, and being creatively inspired to write. She is a master of accents and very amusing in an almost Alan Bennett monologue kind of way but with a percussive rap enthused undertone. Her observations are deep and moving also; we were told at the end that she has been spotted by Working Title Films who are keen to use her as a writer.

I’m sure these inspiring artists will not remain underground or under radar for long.

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