Westpac St James, Wellington

27/06/2006 - 02/07/2006

Production Details

Originally conceived and co-directed by percussionist Luke Cresswell and actor/ singer/ musician/ writer Steve McNicholas

STOMP is an eclectic and electric mix of fierce physicality, invention and wit, all of it revolving around the rhythm that is at STOMP’s heart.

‘This is the dance company that other dance companies come to see,’ says Producer James Cundall.

‘The rhythm, the comedy, the power of it all just sweeps audiences everywhere off their feet. And STOMP sweeps, literally. With brooms, with matchboxes, bins, snapping folding chairs, hubcaps, drums. Whatever. All these everyday objects creating extraordinary music and dance.

‘STOMP was born on the streets and it’s never left that feeling of let’s roll, hey, let’s kick some things around and have fun!’

Theatre , Music , Physical ,

1hr 45mins, no interval

A world awash with instruments

Review by John Smythe 28th Jun 2006

Historically STOMP, which was devised in the UK and debuted at 1991 Edinburgh Fringe, precedes our own Strike percussion ensemble by two years and Australia’s Tap Dogs by four. While Strike is a lot more musical, and Tap Dogs has heaps more dance and spectacle, STOMP has a winning formula that has kept it alive all over the world for 15 years (it’s played over a decade in New York alone, where a part of 2nd Avenue has been renamed ‘Stomp Avenue’).

Conceived and co-directed by a self-taught percussionist (Luke Cresswell) and an actor/ singer/ musician/ writer (Steve McNicholas), STOMP is a very simple idea that thrives on rhythm, pace, heart and humour.

In essence, you can make music – as percussive rhythms, anyway – out of anything. It starts with sweeping. Brooms can stroke, tap and bang. Matchboxes make even subtler sounds. And booted performers (in paint-spattered baggies and singlets) can stamp, slap, jump and – you guessed it – stomp …

Quite early on the audience is encouraged, without a word being spoken, to contribute a sharp double clap on cue and this device is revisited throughout, effectively reinforcing the performer-audience connection.

There’s a puny guy (the programme lists 12 performers, eight – 6m, 2f – appear, we don’t know who, so I can’t credit anyone by name) who wins instant audience sympathy by being the misfit. When the big guys deny him sand for the hard boot shuffle, he provides his own from his pockets. He, of course, becomes a favourite.

Cans, bins, plastic drums and 40-gallon drums are variously called on – or hit on – to generate sound, as are polythene pipes, plumbers plungers and kitchen implements including the kitchen sink … One woman near us nearly wets herself laughing when the men pull their plugs over buckets, and when one shakes to release the last drop she nearly dies.  

Long sticks, short sticks, plastic water-cooler jars, Bic lighters, folding chairs … It’s all so ingenious that when the upper-level racks of bins, pots and wheel rims are finally played it’s almost a come down, except this is not a wham-bam band. They know the value of silence and the infinite variety of sounds in multifarious rhythmical combinations that cover the spectrum from tiny tinkles to boisterous percussion.

A sketch where they gather to read their papers is a comic treat, featuring rustling, flicking, hoiking, coughing and low-grade origami craziness … A sequence where a guy and two gals compete to make the contents of a rubbish bag interesting is also ingenious; who would have thought of plastic bags as instruments?

My companion and I agree the most skilful and therefore most impressive ‘number’ is the one where basket balls are bounced, thrown and caught to extraordinarily precise rhythmical effect. And of course the rubbish bin and dustbin lid finale brings the 105 minute show to a cacophonic climax.

The puny guy toys with the audience demand for an encore but of course we get one and a major goal of the show is realised when the focus turns on the audience to provide a relatively sophisticated range of rhythmical sounds with their feet, hands and fingers while sitting in their seats.

Suddenly the whole world seems awash with instruments waiting to be played.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council