STOMP REVIEW. Created and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. A short season at Artscape Opera House until 15 September 2019.
SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews
“STOMP is a unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas in Brighton UK, in the summer of 1991”, so writes Stomp’s programme notes compiler.
What those few words don’t mention is… Stomp is Cresswell and McNicholas’s brilliantly original syncopated dialogue performed by five scruffy, combat-booted energetic lads, two, not quite so scruffy, lasses fancy footing around every-day household utensils.
First indication Stomp offers something unusual is their three-storey-high background grid. Onto this hang, hub caps, road signs, varying sized bins, pipes and, below centre stage, stand an array of large blue bins…the purpose for which will, in due course, be revealed.
One is still busy identifying bits and pieces when in walks a ‘stage hand,’ broom in hand sweeping, what is obviously an already clean stage….why? Only when he taps the broom’s hard end followed a few seconds later by foot tapping, does the penny drop – Stomp has begun.
And started it has as one by one, broom in hand, the cast trickle in to help ‘Stage Hand’ compose a percussive broom symphony. A symphony Shostakovich would envy.
Team togetherness is imperative. One member out of sync would immediately resonate to listener’s ears and jar this novel music-making band playing out a composition built on successive rhythmic crescendos and diminuendos.
No backing track, or conductor keep this bunch in harmony. They all instinctively know that timing a lifted eyebrow, shrugging a shoulder, tossing a hand, a jump, and complex flamenco Palmas will communicate their thoughts to each other and communicate their meaning to viewers.
Bespeckled Cade Slattery proved the company’s clown. From him, the simplest gesture or quizzical look could send everyone chortling.
Led by tall Dominik Schad, Mohawk hairdo, chinos et al, in their 125 allotted minutes, individually or in groups these magnificent seven bounced balls, held stick fights, played gypsy music on ‘concertino’ pipes, clashed bin lid cymbals, had fun with aluminium sinks, pint tins, harnessed themselves to the grid to make music from hub caps and chimes, and swung about in ginormous tractor inner tubes.
Among Stomp’s many highlights, for me the ‘food trolley ballet,’ provided the evenings most memorable scene. Each and every scene enhanced by McNicholas’s innovative lighting plot.
Performers energy is a given. However, performers needs are different. For example, a ballet dancer’s energies differ from a contemporary dancer’s, an opera singer’s, an actor’s or musician’s. But the energy of these seven all these put together – in fact their combined power could well man a rocket to Mars.
However, please stay earthbound, Capetonians who missed seeing Stomp, must see them in the not to distant future.
What: Stomp review Cape Town