Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Stomp, Her Majesty's, May 30, 2006

by Luke Cresswell & Steve McNicholas
Her Majesty’s Theatre, May 30 until June 4, 2006
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stomp is a thumpin’, pulsing animal that just keeps on kicking.

This explosive theatrical percussion confection was born to Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas in England in 1981 and thundered onto Australian stages in 1992. It is still running on stages in New York and London and touring the world.

Stomp is box office gold because it is like the comic book of theatre and music. It thumps, thwacks and kapows for 90 minutes, smacking the audience in the belly with driving percussive rhythms and visceral energy.

The eight scruffy, urban guerrilla performers are drummers and dancers, but mostly they are personalities. The six men and two women create percussive mayhem on myriad domestic and found objects. They bang, slap, clap and tap on things that normally sit silently in our laundries, back yards and laneways.

Stomp is not just a show about drumming. The performers are clowns and dancers. They create relationships with each other and with us. We learn to know and love each quirky one of them: Blondie, Mohawk, Bruiser, Tattoo Boy, Pee Wee and the rest.

They open with an old Stomp standard, swishing and banging routine with brooms then shift to the clatter of matchboxes and a massive group body percussion with slapping, stomping and clapping.

They do a soft shoe on sand then make music out of the clean up with dustpans and brooms. Rubber pipes create other–worldly soundscapes and tin pails, ladles and even kitchen sinks (filled with soapy water) become instruments.

There are dowelling poles, paint scrapers, plastic bags and newspapers, clicking cigarette lighters, the thump of basketballs and the thud of tea chests.

Metal found objects decorate a huge, upstage scaffold and drummers dangle precariously from harnesses as they beat rhythm from this vertical drum kit.

The finale with thumping rubbish bins, clanging lids and 44-gallon drums is dynamic and thunderous. The crowd went wild.

Early in the show one performer trains the audience, like Pavlov’s dogs, to echo his clapping. The pay-off for theis daggy audience participation comes in the encore when the call and response of the audience and performers is insanely complicated and wildly appreciated.

The noise is often deafening, the pace hectic, the audience feverish, the performers both hilarious and bizarre. Stomp is a big banger; it’s the whole fireworks display.

By Kate Herbert

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