Stomp ’18 (touring) – theatre review

Who would have thought that making rhythmic noises from the mundane objects could prove to be such a sustained crowd-pleaser? But Stomp ‘18 isn’t just noise making, but crafted musicality par excellence. It’s vibrant, energetic, frequently hilarious and so much fun; with a soundtrack inspired by the commotion of everyday life.

  Stomp ’18 is 100 minutes of non-stop action. The collective of six men and two women doesn’t miss a beat. Added to that, they have the art of showmanship down pat. Far from being passive, we are encouraged to replicate the, at times, rapid hand movements of the central performer … and, on occasions, the buffoon. The latter is an ingenious part of the program. Having a clown when the rest of the crew is so polished works a treat. Of course, in reality, so is he … and that’s an integral part of the shtick.

When we enter the theatre, laid out before us is a two-tiered industrial set. It’s complete with corrugated iron sheeting, barrels, street signs and much more. A lone sweeper proves quite handy with a broom before he’s joined by seven others who take up the cause, seemingly with reckless abandon. Naturally, it’s all carefully and expertly choreographed.

Match boxes are there to be “plucked”. They’re mere playthings in this mob’s hands, as are a couple of pan and brush sets. Rubber piping of various sizes also generates sounds when struck on the floor, while empty paint cans are tossed around. Large sticks hit with smaller sticks (and used for jousting) prove quite a hit. Four members of the troupe literally throw the water-laden kitchen sink at this one, being one of the show’s highlights.

My personal fancy was a superb routine involving the nerd and three of his cohorts invading his personal space with newspapers. One in particular – a portly man with a red Mohawk – lets it all hang out and “camps it up”. And no Stomp performance would be complete without liberal use of “kissing”, clanking dustbin lids and the dustbins themselves.

Stomp originated at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in 1991. It was an instant hit and spread globally. On Broadway, Stomp is currently enjoying its 23rd year, while it has been in London’s West End for 15 years. There are, in fact, up to five Stomp companies performing worldwide at any one time. With this new Australian production, Stomp has lost none of its mojo – in fact, it positively sizzles.

Stomp ’18 is playing at Comedy Theatre in Melbourne until 6 May, before moving to The Star on the Gold Coast from 31 May to 3 June. Then it’s off to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre between 6 and 10 June, and Sydney Capitol Theatre from 30 July to 5 August 2018.

Alex First

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