Diversity and talent were in abundance on Friday night as the 1984 Production Team put together an eclectic mix of performers for a cultural sampling of the University’s arts scene. To ‘promote art and creativity’ from a diverse range of Societies was their aim and they certainly delivered.

The Performing Arts Studio was dressed like a Jazz Club, and a glass of wine was given away with every ticket. Song, dance, poetry, comedy and theatre was on offer on stage, while fairy lights and watercolour artworks from Art Soc adorned the walls. This transformation of the PAS was all in aid of the up-coming New Theatre production of 1984 – débuting this Wednesday.

Musicality Society started the show with a couple of up-beat numbers. The chorus, though clearly nervous, filled the small space energetically and began the evening on a definite high. Their second song, Seasons of Love, featured some professional-grade solo’s and really demonstrated the talent in Musicality.

Following this barrage of harmony was Cleo Asabre-Holt, a poet who stood alone on stage with a microphone and her lyrics, who gave the audience a more subtle, but resonant, performance. Cleo offered an insight into highly personal aspects of her life, drawing on the styles of Spoken Word and Beat poetry. The courage of this performance gives merit enough to Cleo, but her passionate lyrical ambling through past experiences of love and heartache were impressive and moving.

Transitioning rapidly from poetry to dance, through James McAndrew’s graceful hosting, the next act was a performance from the Indian Dance Society. Diversity was clearly the idea of NU:ART and it showed, as all the vibrancy and fun of Bollywood filled the room. The four dancers, who gave us a taste of the Indian Dance Society’s ability, were big in terms of stage presence and highly energetic in their moves.

Tom Toland was next on stage, changing the atmosphere of the room yet again, to show off his Spoken Word skills. No introduction was necessary for this first year student, who’s bold performance style boasted confidence and self-control. New Theatre President Sam Hayward was even called on stage to read a poem of Tom’s choosing, which Sam was understandably ecstatic about.

The Improv Society then found themselves in bizarre and unexpected situations, performing several improvised scenes at the suggestion of the audience. Hilarity was constituted by terrible accents, improper familial relations, the kingdom of Mercia and a talking dog. Ben MacPherson of Improv Soc then remained on stage to bring the audience delightfully middle class stand up comedy. His awkwardly fun routine was casual and engaging, and his observational insights on laundry were simply sublime.

Concluding the nights entertainments were the acoustic duo Cheshire and the Cat. ‘Bluesy-Jazz Rap’, influenced by music greats like Johnny Cash and Jamie T, appears to be the most fitting description of this pair. They later admitted that actually no one is really sure how to class their denim clad concoction. Though not helped by the lack of amplification, they played with conviction and ended the night with cheers from the crowd.

NU:ART may have been a one-off fund-raising venture, but its bringing together of the best on offer from the University’s arts scene made it a thoroughly entertaining spectacle. Much thought had clearly gone into this cultural highlights package and the atmosphere was one of relaxed enjoyment. The only downfall; it wont be returning any time soon!

Jack Revell    

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