The name of this critically acclaimed spectacle almost goes before it nowadays, yet so many still fall short of describing it. Since returning from a sell-out world tour in 1994, STOMP has gone on to create IMAX films, feature in numerous advertising campaigns and been commissioned to perform for the 2012 Olympic Games closing ceremony.
STOMP combines musical and physical rhythm in their rawest forms and yet to call it ‘raw’ just would not be right. It is meticulous, exemplifying a level of self-control some simply would not consider possible. Not a pin drop is out of line. Set within a construction site, directors Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas make it apparent from the start that we are witnessing something under development, although you have never seen building materials used like this, I assure you. Every inch of the set is musically exploited, from road signs to matchboxes and the iconic metal dustbins in a deafening finale piece. Whoever said musical instruments were not accessible to the masses is instantly proven wrong by STOMP.
Whilst music and dance underpin the essence of STOMP, it also triumphs as a comedy and, being completely without dialogue, this show serves to prove that actions do speak louder than words. Within the cast of just thirteen performers we find a microcosm of working typecasts – the bodybuilder, the outcast, the punk – and each shines individually as much as within the group. The performers play off the audience, so be prepared to crash through the fourth wall and get involved. This certainly does not provide a sit-back-and-enjoy-the-show type of evening.
The employment of stage lighting is subtle but adds to the idea that each persona has something unique to offer, most notably demonstrated through the use of the spotlight. At one point the theatre is plunged into darkness and a five minute sequence involving only Zippo lighters and clever timing ensues. In another blink of the eye, the lights are back up and two men are suspended from the top of the towering scaffolding which stands centre stage. It is these contrasts throughout, taking us from the mundane to the extraordinary, which ensure the audience is kept guessing until the curtain falls.
Having premiered at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms in 1991, STOMP has come home this Autumn in spectacular style, guaranteeing that you will never look at your kitchen utensils in the same way again.