Directors: Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas
Reviewer: Nathanael Kent
There’s no denying that Stomp has come a long way its premiere on the Edinburgh Fringe back in 1991. It’s now in its eighth year in the West End, was an integral part of the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony and has completed multiple international tours. And after watching this production, it’s not hard to see why.
Like much of modern art these days, everything is built around the concept of objet trouvé- creating something out of found objects which in this case are mainly junk. But Stomp is the perfect embodiment of the age-old adage “where there’s muck there’s brass”. Dustbin lids, tractor inner tubes, sinks – the list goes on – are all used by the eight performers to create an explosion of sound. Played out on a set of corrugated iron and oil drums, it brings to mind the samba bands of Brazilian slums. What’s fascinating is watching the piece build, as the ‘instruments’ increase in size and the percussive layers get more and more elaborate.
Part of the fun, too, is wondering what they are going to use next. There’s a beautiful section when in a stage of darkness, cigarette lighters are used to create intricate little rhythms, complete with flickers of lights which combined gives the appearance of a digital display. It’s so simple, yet so effective; it all relies on timing and precision.
But Stomp is not purely about the music. As the show progresses, the personalities of the performers emerge, often to our great amusement. One chaps struggles to get heard, while another was clearly born a clown. Occasionally the piece struggles to flow, not helped by multiple blackouts, but for the full 100 minutes (there’s no interval), it certainly never outstays its welcome. There is such a strong, often infectious, camaraderie between those on stage that at times one just wants to join in. And thankfully we get to, though with it comes one of the biggest tests the Marlowe building has faced yet: 1200 people stamping their feet simultaneously. The auditorium certainly shakes. Let’s hope it holds out for the rest of the week long run!
Runs until 23rd February