A unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy is how Stomp is described in the programme, and that is perfectly accurate. However, it doesn’t begin to explain how energetic and awe-inspiring the show I saw last night is.
Created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas back in 1991, Stomp has become rather a phenomenon across the world. I’ll admit, I had the opportunity to see it while I was in college before it had become so well-known and I passed on the chance, wondering who on earth would be interested in watching people bang dustbin lids and brooms around a stage. Fortunately for me, my partner has been dying to see it for years, so I earned some extra brownie points and took him along, silently thinking it probably wasn’t my sort of show.
Thank goodness my partner has such good taste! The vigour and energy that the performers put into their art is unbelievable. I spent most of the hour and forty minutes with my mouth agape as I tried to process everything that was being presented to me. What began with a lone member of the team (Phil Batchelor) on stage with a broom, led the audience on a journey of the magical things that can be done with everyday household items. The rhythms and sounds rose and fell, and rose again, while this army of musicians made use of pipes, paint cans, plastic barrels, sand, matchboxes, plastic bags, paper bags and each other. As every ‘scene’ changed, I thought “no, this is my favourite”, but I continued to be blown away or spellbound by the next. The violent ballet of the supermarket trolleys drew a few gasps from the audience and there was rapturous applause after every scene.
The precision with which every move must be choreographed and rehearsed is incredible and it’s almost inhuman how talented this ensemble is. I can barely walk and talk at the same time, let alone seemingly casually toss a paint can in the air while five or six other people are doing the same thing, hoping it finds the right person and catch the one that has been thrown to me. And repeat. Very quickly.
There were quieter moments – the stage lights dimmed for the line-up of lighters clicking and creating not only an enchanting sound, but a beautiful visual feast too. However, the show’s crescendo of a finale, which I can only describe as a tribal dance with dustbin lids, would quite easily wake the dead.
I cannot recommend this show enough. It’s clear that the performers are not only hugely talented, but love what they do. The music and sounds they create can be felt deep inside the body and I would happily go back and watch the show again and again.