On the back of our ‘Best of 2017’ articles, some of our writers have selected their favourite performances of 2017/18 put on by UCL societies.
Cross-Currents – Jazz Society
Jazz fusion was the genre explored by UCL Jazz society in their Term 1 Garage Show. Through a series of compelling pieces, a history of encounters and clashes at the boundary between jazz and other musical styles was delivered. This was not necessarily jazz as the layman knows it – something exemplified through the sheer variety of instruments used. The more customary saxophones and drums were supplemented by electric guitars and basses, flutes, cellos, and even a synthesiser. This resulted in an eclectic show brimming with talent and invention. The Bloomsbury Studio is a small space, and to have been able to enjoy such an intimate performance there was a fantastic experience.
Rangeela – Hindu Society
Hindu Society’s Rangeela 2018, supporting The Youth Project, did not disappoint, moving to the Adelphi Theatre to better accommodate its mass following. Classical and modern music and dance was interspersed with a reworking of Snow White, which saw the dwarves take centre-stage. Vikram Kohli’s performance as the clueless huntsman was a particular hit with the audience. Among the dances, Bhangra, with all its costumes and energy, was outstanding, as was the final dance, East West Fusion, which displayed excellent choreography and execution. Fashion this year was divided into East and West, with both showcasing seriously beautiful outfits. Among the fun, the message carried across by the evening was the importance of family (especially parents) in our lives, without whom, of course, Rangeela couldn’t happen. Until next year!
‘SENSE’ – Drama Society
Personally speaking, evening visits to clammy crypts in St. Pancras are not something I usually associate with engaging student theatre. This time, however, UCL Drama Society was on hand, armed with German playwright Anja Hilling’s angsty ‘SENSE’, to make me reconsider. Focusing on brief episodes in the lives of Berlin teenagers, the play explores each of the five senses as a vehicle for storytelling. Convincingly recounting the build-up to a bloody murder or exploring the death of a boyfriend through the lens of smell or touch is no easy task, but this cast pulled it off, all while spraying the audience with tomato juice for good measure.
‘Into the Woods’ – Musical Theatre and Stage Crew societies
Once upon a time, I watched a production of ‘Into the Woods’ by the UCL Musical Theatre and Stage Crew societies at the Shaw Theatre, and it was glorious. This adaptation, produced by Vojta Smekal and directed by Olivia Burgin, was based on Sondheim’s and Lapine’s twisted re-imagining of Grimm’s fairytales, where well-known fairytale characters begin various quests with gusto, but ultimately succumb to the dark sides of desire. Vigorously fun and witty, yet emotional and dark, ‘Into the Woods’ required an incredibly layered performance, which was delivered wonderfully by a cast, crew, production team and orchestra brimming with talent, leaving you feeling like you had achieved your happily-ever-after.
‘Birdland’ – Jazz Society
UCL Jazz Society has always demonstrated the startling talent of wholly embodying a sprawling, dense, vibrant genre completely effortlessly, and this was no less true for their Term 2 Shaw Theatre show Birdland. An ode to the evolving vibrancy of New York’s jazz scene, this masterful collection of student-led arrangements, paired with a full orchestra and choir, presented a thorough evolution of this iconic period, from the genre-defining jazz standards to its inspirations in the blues rock of Rolling Stones and the dance-punk of LCD Soundsystem, simultaneously ensuring that no lull was felt, and no foot was left untapping. An intriguing, engaging night, and another success for one of UCL’s most exciting arts societies.