THEA NOWELL reviews the UCL Societies Showcase Night at the Bloomsbury Theatre.

First opening its doors in 1968 as the Central Collegiate Building Auditorium, The Bloomsbury Theatre has supported and showcased the best of UCL’s performing arts since its conception, working together with students and researchers to bring exciting talent and ground-breaking discoveries to the stage. Famous guests include UCL alumnus Ricky Gervais, and Adele. The theatre closed its doors in 2015 for a major renovation project, and now, having reopened last year, fifty years after its first performance, The Bloomsbury Theatre proudly marked its rebirth with a showcase from ten of UCL’s performing arts societies.

The showcase celebrated Bloomsbury Theatre’s official relaunch, honouring the relationship between the university and the theatre. Organised and directed by George W.X. Barker and hosted by Rare FM’s Caycee Peskett-Hill and Stage Crew’s Vojta Smekal, the showcase was the perfect opportunity for UCL’s societies to show off their diverse talents.

Opening the night was Jazz Society with three dynamic pieces. Featuring extraordinary solos in vocals, drums, trumpet and saxophone, the performances were skilfully conducted and bursting with energy as they blended pre-rehearsed elements with ‘a healthy dose of improvisation.’ Jazz Soc brought an energetic start to the evening and set the tone for the proceeding acts. An enthusiastic audience were invited to join in with the chorus of a heartfelt performance from Folk & World Music Society and the Musical Theatre Society brought the first act to a close with their dramatic renditions of songs from The Phantom of the Opera and Songs of a New World. There were a few familiar faces in Live Music’s vibrant set and Guitar Society amazed the audience with their skilled recitals.

Dance Society’s vivid performance presented a spirited and well-rehearsed piece in an interpretation of the highs and lows of university life, while the Salsa Society were captivating in their sparkly costumes, treating us to a short yet passionate display of their dancing talent.

A highlight of the night was Juggling and Circus society. Their piece was skilful yet comedic and politically aware. In a world in which Sadiq Khan, in an effort to cut government costs, had reduced the size of all the Boris Bikes, we followed one enterprising Deliveroo driver’s attempt to persevere. Featuring ‘dumpling’ juggling, ‘chopstick’ twirling, an impressive light show and a bicycle-mechanic-cum-talented-diablo-juggler, the society enthralled the audience with their comical and inclusive performance.

The MD’s hilarious comedy revue had the audience in stitches, and nervously consulting web-md about lipomas vs skin cancer. Highlights included a musical rendition of the plight of the ‘gap yah’ student to the tune of I Will Survive, a sketch about sex education in America: ‘the clitoris, fiction or fiction?’ and a parodic video showing us around the luxurious property that is Ramsay Hall.

Our hosts, Caycee and Vojta were unfazed by a few technical faults and kept the audience entertained through the longer scene changes. They even brought UCLove to the stage, asking the audience to leave anonymous messages which they later read out in the second act. Alongside the expected marriage proposals and brazen individuals leaving their phone numbers, were praise for the performers, a tongue twister, and a couple of dubious jokes: ‘What did the drummer name his two daughters? Anna 1 Anna 2.’

Overall, the night was an overwhelming success: the diverse and talented display of performing arts was an ideal début for the theatre’s return, honouring the relationship between the theatre and the university while exhibiting the many facets of performing arts that UCL’s societies have to offer.

The Societies Showcase Night was held at The Bloomsbury Theatre on 23rd February.