With a single clap the charismatic leader of the pack makes the audience part of the gang even though some of the more challenging rhythms are a bit beyond this reviewer’s skills. It’s a bonding experience. All human life is contained in this performance. A skinny comic character works hard to be part of the group but always there is no chair for him. The gang who crowd him and rustle their newspapers in his face shatters his peace; this is the cue for an urban melody based on the performers clearing their phlegm. Wearing comfortable ‘come as you are’ work clothes, the ensemble share themselves freely with us in the traditions of physical theatre. As the trials of life are shared there is no façade that separates audience and performer as a dialogue that is full of gestures and no words is established. It is stunning the amount of communication that is achieved by rhythm alone.
Watching the show as it moves from form to form I feel I am not alone in struggling to figure out exactly how to describe this phenomenon to folk at work next day. Much of Stomp’s work evolves from generic everyday objects. The evening starts with the humdrum of dragging a sweeping brush over the stage. Other routines involve cigarette lighters and water cooler bottles; so much of it is transferable to our everyday life. Before I know it I’m uncontrollably tapping out one of their rhythms on a biro. This is deeply satisfying. The brochure lists performers past and present, giving the reassuring feeling that they never truly leave the company. So we are all part of the journey of this runaway British success story that shows no signs of slowing down. Whilst the list of performers for each show can change, the website reads ‘Obviously everyone has to drum’. Whilst that rules me out, dustbin lids will never be the same again.