Eddie Mullan finds out what all the noise is about down at the Waterfront
Stomp - that pole-banging, hand-clapping, chair-sliding, boot-shuffling, bin-crashing global phenomenon - has been enthralling audiences around the world since 1992. A head-spinning 14 million people in 43 countries have seen it in one form or another, and 2010's 'fresher, faster, funnier' version is attracting a whole new generation of fans.
Devoid of dialogue throughout, the cast grab our attention by getting the audience involved. The production is a blend of comedy routines and more intense, choreographed 'fight' scenes, but unlike a regular musical or pantomime, there’s no real narrative.
Instead, the world-class percussionists - or Stompers, as they like to be known - keep the show moving forward by displaying a wide range of differing dance and percussive styles. Making great music from everyday household items, including brooms, newspapers and the requisite kitchen sink, has never been such fun.
The stage is decorated with an elaborate rig of roadwork signs, rubbish bins and sheets of corrugated iron that perhaps refer to the humble beginnings of the show, which originated from a troupe of Brighton street buskers. The ‘Stompers’ make great use of this setup, with every prop considered a potential musical instrument.
One particularly exhilarating scene sees the cast harness themselves to the upper level of the rigging before performing a stunning composition using hanging pots, buckets, road signs and other junk - its only failing is that it ends all too soon.
Other highlights include a beautifully simple set-piece involving zippo lighters, a sweet medley featuring rubber tubes and an astonishing routine in which the rhythms are built up by way of paint cans thrown between performers. The eight American cast members also bring their own individual styles to the show, improvising segments much to their own, and the audiences, amusement.
At times the comic relief character played by Richard Giddens threatens to steal the show, with his well-oiled prop gags and an hilarious 'truffle shuffle', but its the ensemble that makes Stomp such a spectacle. I leave the theatre and shuffle out the exit, jangling cars keys and tapping the banister that leads me back to the non-percussive world. Who knows, it might catch on - we could all be Stomping our way to work on Monday morning.
Stomp continues at the Waterfront through to Sunday, January 24. Tickets available from Waterfront box office.