Lovers of classic house, rave culture and acid house have joined forces to fund the development of Better Days, a new one-man show at Leeds Playhouse on 3-4 March as part of a UK tour.
Leeds-based playwright and screenwriter Ben Tagoe has written for some of TV and film’s biggest names, including Idris Elba, James Nesbitt and Dougray Scott. With Better Days, he’s returning to his roots with a show that combines two of his biggest passions – house music and theatre.
“It isn’t entirely biographical, but it is very much drawn from my own personal experience and those of close friends,” said the former EastEnders and Coronation Street scriptwriter. “Rave and house music was a massive part of my youth. It’s a universal story that anybody who came of age in that era will relate to. It was a magical time and there are so many amazing memories.
“Better Days is an intimate standing show. I felt it would be best to get the crowd as close as possible to the performer to recreate the feeling of being in a club, but with the storytelling integrated. It will be like listening to an old mixtape from the early 90s, with a very personal story mixed in. The show seemed to capture people’s imagination from day one and the support we attracted via Crowdfunder was incredible.”
The show, presented by Studio 57 Productions, features some of the best rave and clubbing tunes from the early 90s, including tracks by N-Joi, Frankie Knuckles, Gat Décor, 808 State and the legendary title track “Better Days” by Jimi Polo. It tells the story of Danny, a 19-year-old in 1990, who finds himself at a crossroads between two tribes – the burgeoning house music scene and the football hooligans he feels bound to by fierce loyalty.
As well as music, this dynamic, vibrant 70-minute live performance also includes poetic storytelling that takes audiences on an exciting trip down memory lane.
Danny is played by 23-year-old East Yorkshire actor George Martin: “I’ve always been a fan of 90s house music. Having heard the stories of the legendary clubs that existed across the UK, I feel like I missed out on something. Being part of Better Days is not only fulfilling as an actor, it has also given me an opportunity to experience what it was like.”
As well as Leeds Playhouse, the tour is also heading to Farsley, Manchester, Hull, Huddersfield, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and Dundee.