One of the most captivating pieces of performance theatre I have ever seen. A musical masterpiece.
Stomp has always been on my radar. It’s that show where they drum on trash cans and that. Other than that though, I didn’t know much else. I certainly didn’t know just how much it would take my breath away.
It’s a piece of theatre unlike any other. It doesn’t have a narrative or story, and yet I didn’t once feel bored during its 105 minute runtime. I spent the whole time with a smile firmly plastered on my face, utterly perplexed and amazed at the phenomenal display of musical ability in front of me. The show features 8 performers and is made up of a variety of pieces/sketches in which they use everyday items to make music. From plumbing tubes, to buckets, to matchboxes, to newspapers… I’d say everything but the kitchen sink, but they even use kitchen sinks!
The opening scene features each of the performers joining in one by one, tapping and sweeping with brooms to make a cacophony of sounds. From this opening scene alone, the immense talent of these performers was shown. Each and every performer has to be completely focused on their own pattern and rhythm, and yet also be acutely aware of what every other performer on stage is doing. Sticking to a set rhythm is hard enough, but when every person on stage is working in completely different patterns to you, it is vital that not a beat is out of place. And it wasn’t. I stared in amazement as the poly-rhythmic texture built and built and the visual and harmonic wonder of what was happening was revealed. They got through plenty of brooms as they kept breaking them, and yet, even when that happened, not a foot was out of place – the performer would just throw the broken broom down and be thrown a fresh one from the side of this stage.
Throughout Stomp, there are so many aspects that needed to be considered by the performers. Somehow, it seemed that they were able to control all of the elements, even gravity itself. There were multiple scenes in which they would drum on buckets with sticks and then throw them to another performer, the next person hitting on the next beat. How they defied the laws of physics and nature to not miss a single beat, I really don’t know, but it was captivating to witness.
Despite the fact that there was no storyline, there was still a clear sense of who each character was. You had the leader of the group – the first performer on stage and the one to lead most of the audience participation segments, you had the tough, no-nonsense one, you had the awkward nerdy one who was the butt of every joke. That was the other thing too, they managed to incorporate quite a bit of humour into it. From random notes that seem out of place, to whole sequences where everyone gangs up on one character, it really did make me laugh.
It was interactive as an experience too, call and response patterns were often used between the performers and the audience. This not only made the audience feel a part of the spectacle, but yet again highlighted how intense the show is. My hands were tired just from the five minutes we joined in; these guys being able to keep going all night is astonishing.
Although my words here can not fully express the wonder that is Stomp, it truly is a separate entity of an art form in its own right. No part of me feels that I am exaggerating when I call it a masterpiece. A phenomenal piece of performance theatre with some of the most talented musicians in this country right now.
Stomp is currently on a tour of the UK and Ireland. It was at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from the 16th-19th August.