Watching a gang of ill-dressed youngsters whacking a variety of household objects doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend an evening.
Yet from the moment a solitary street sweeper walks on stage to a finale when eight men and women are beating the hell out of dustbins, Stomp is absolutely mesmerising.
The idea of making music out of mundane pots, pans and waste material is ridiculous – and Stomp is ridiculously good. Standing ovation good, in fact, despite the non-vocal cast members indicating that they want the audience to bugger off now so they can go and tackle some beers.
They look like absolute bruisers – the sort of men you’d cross the street to avoid. But that’s totally appropriate for this street-savvy show, as they pull items out of garbage bags to see what noises they can make. And it’s music, not cacophony, with powerful rhythms and a full range of notes blending together perfectly.
Although the items they use are offbeat, so to speak, the beats are brilliant. Rubber tubes become melodious instruments. A backdrop of industrial scaffolding turns into an outsized instrument as the energetic cast swarm up the poles and strike the kitchen implements and road signs hanging up there.
Humour is a crucial element of Stomp, and not just because you laugh when you see how ordinary things like a box of matches can make music. That’s funny on its own, but the interaction between the cast and some fabulous comic antics add a warmth and depth that make even the tattooed bouncer boys delightful.
Witty choreography lets the humour burst out even though the vocals are limited to a few grunts and a couple of sneers.
There’s a joker outcast character who the audience naturally adores, and his actions add much of the comedy. An older lead character is also highly memorable for the amazing things he can do with a pair of hands and his body parts. Percussionally speaking, of course.
Tap dancing and acrobatics are mixed in, and the whole event is a theatrical display of perfect coordination as bins, balls, chairs and an assortment of other objects are juggled and thrown between the cast.
The lighting is flawless too, with spotlights flicking between the different members as they take the lead. A scene where Zippo lighters are flicked on and off gives us sound as well as eerie lighting, illustrating how skilled its creators and co-directors Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas are to have produced such a wacky show from such ordinary objects. The stompers are literally using everything including the kitchen sink.
The cast is never introduced individually, making this very much a tight team effort rather than a “clap me I’m gorgeous” prima donna affair. We clapped and added our own stomps anyway, because it’s bold, brash and absolutely brilliant.
Stomp runs at Montecasino’s Teatro until April 11th. There is a special performance on Thursday, 1st April which will aims to raise money for various charitable causes. To book, follow the links alongside.