Stomp has been a success ever since creators Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas combined their abstract creative abilities back in 1991. For the next 4 years the show previewed on stages all over the world, from Hong Kong to Dublin. It hit Broadway in 1994 and since then has never looked back. Stomp has finally returned to the UK where it was originally created and will reside in London's Vaudeville Theatre until May 2007.
Compared with the rest of the West End's mostly musical repertoire the idea of a wordless production with no narrative and very little music seems out of place. If anything Stomp brings a lighthearted essence to contemporary dance and the West End, without the usual glint of a pretentious hidden meaning that comes along with most forms of dance that break away from the norm.
The show combines a high-octane mixture of dance, theatre, comedy and percussion but uses all these elements in an abstract and slightly far-fetched way. It features eight performers, all with different and whimsical characteristics. The beauty of Stomp is that although there is definite strict choreography it still leaves each individual performer with room to inject their personality into their role.
The bare, industrial and slightly dingy looking stage provokes very little inspiration when your eyes first fall upon it—thus, you inevitably form a preconception of what's to come. But moments later your opinion has been blown away with what can only be described as an avalanche of rhythmical phenomena. The sound in this piece is predominately the sharp slapping of hands on thighs or chests combined with the more hollow tapping of the performers feet on the dusty stage. The feat of creating such precise musicality with much less than a beat of a drum to be guided by is jaw-dropping enough without bringing in the junk inspired instruments. From dustbins strapped around their necks to clipper lighters on a blacked out stage, the cast uses everything including the kitchen sink to heighten their dramatic, pulsating performance.
The sheer abnormality and individual air that surrounds Stomp is definitely one of its biggest highlights and more importantly a crowd gatherer. However, for me, the show dragged slightly in places. After the first half, someone walking on stage with a broom completely lost the element of surprise that was grasped hold of so tightly at the beginning of the show. It became slightly predictable but strangely, still fresh.
Stomp has no plot and doesn't really commit itself to any specific genre. The sound of this was quite frustrating to me as I was afraid I would try and drag a meaning from something that had nothing to offer, and I was right. Stomp has no deep underlying messages or undertones but the fact is—it doesn't need it. The emotion and pure energy that the dancers infuse into the choreography more than makes up for its lack of story line.
Anyone with an appreciation of rhythmic ability and almost slap stick comedy will more than enjoy Stomp as a show. Its simplicity and attitude toward performance to purely entertain serves all ages of its audience as a thoroughly pleasurable experience.