Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Sabrina Mahfouz delivers a rapid-fire rapping firecracker of a show, based on her experience of waitressing in strip clubs to pay her way through University. A raw talent with huge potential but as a writer and a performer, discover her now before she gets really famous.
The name Sabrina Mahfouz is one we’re going to hear a lot more. She reminds me a little of the young Emily Woof in the early 90s.
The show she has written and is performing in Edinburgh, Dry Ice, is based on her experiences waitressing for 5 years in London strip clubs to pay her way through University.
The story she tells is ultimately one of self-empowerment. She observes everyone around her with compassion, yet remains an observer, her exit from this tawdry world never in doubt, for this sassy firecracker is evidently one of life’s survivors, and will perhaps one day burn as a bright star. Or she might choose another direction.
For now, Mahfouz arrives in Edinburgh as something of a rough diamond. Rarely out of fifth-gear, she raps her way through a quick-fire parade of posh dinner party types, strippers and their clients. Each one (the press release says there are 18, but there may well be more) is sharply defined. Her ear for accents and voices is really quite extraordinary.
Her writing too is sharp, rapid rhymes tumbling out in a variety of patterns, reminding me of punk poet John Cooper Clarke at his most manic. Indeed if there is one significant flaw in the performance it is that throughout Mahfouz goes too fast, and it is a shame her director, David Schwimmer of Friends fame, did not help her find more variety in her delivery. Although the quick pace was for the most part electrifying I longed for some contrast, and wished she had more confidence to take some sections slowly and to relish her pauses and silences just a little bit longer. (Perhaps she was nervous on the night I saw her, because the show ended almost 10 minutes earlier than billed).
Physically too, her performance is articulate, but one suspects she could have gone much further than she did and again this is an aspect of solo performance where a director more experienced in the genre may have either guided her or helped her discover more in herself. Squeezing herself through the hole in the back of the chair was a neat trick, cleanly executed, but it didn’t merit a third repetition.
And then, as suddenly as it started it suddenly stopped, and somewhat awkwardly, as if she is genuinely and endearingly unaware of how good she is, Mahfouz rushes her bow.
I look forward to seeing what she does next. It is exciting to discover such a brilliant young artist, with a world of opportunity before her and time to explore it.