The Den had the atmosphere of a slightly eccentric cabaret club: the audience sat at tables, looking onto a minimalist, almost completely bare stage with musicians playing in the corner. With no clues given as to what was about to happen, the audience could but look to the performers, each sitting with an enigmatic glint in their eyes. In every possible sense of the phrase, I did not know what to expect. But that was OK; as it turned out, neither did the performers.
Although our university shows off its student talent in many different ways, ImprovSoc particularly stands apart from the other performing arts societies. Indeed, you may turn up your nose at the prospect of watching what are essentially, a series of drama games – but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it! The show was loosely directed by an able conférencier, whose dry wit not only maintained momentum between acts, but also determined the nature of them. This show inherently relied on the audience’s suggestions – he rolled the dice, and we told him where they landed. The results on stage ranged from the silly to the downright bizarre – how often can a show take you from a natural history documentary to a swingers’ party in the space of ten seconds? The performers complied with relentless wit and enthusiasm, like anarchic pawns in our crazy game of improvisational chess. They forever kept us on our toes and never ceased to entertain. The musicians were equally talented and quick-witted, playfully adding to the mood and teasing performers and spectators alike.
Needless to say, they do not deliver the polished, flawless productions offered by the likes of the New Theatre and Musicality, illustrating hours of painstaking rehearsal – ImprovSoc knows no such pretention. What these performers have to offer is raw, spontaneous, and intrinsically rough round the edges – but this is what gives them their charm. Inevitably, some things will be a bit ‘hit and miss’; but the performers were so sharp and likable that the show always sustained its energy – something which takes great skill to pull off. No show is ever the same, and this is genuinely exciting.
So, if you find yourself with a few free hours on a Friday evening, get yourselves down to The Den to experience something a little bit different. ImprovSoc is daring, chaotic, and – OK, quit the pretention – it’s just fun!