★★★★ | STOMP – Sheffield Lyceum and National Tour
Mixing tap dancing, street dance, percussion, juggling, humour and incredible feats of physical performance, STOMP enters its 25th year with a show which utilises everything from paint pots to bin lids to create rhythmic set pieces which are dazzling, fresh, funny and exhilarating.
Initially, one did wonder, having only seen the odd set piece from STOMP before on TV variety shows, how they would be able to fill a continuous one hour forty minute show without it becoming repetitive, but they were able to move from one set piece to the next seamlessly, always managing to add something new and different from what had come before. Using everything from brooms, sinks and dustbin lids through to shopping trollies, cigarette lighters and giant rubber rings, the variety of set pieces was more than enough to keep the show rattling through its running time, and the show arrived at its curtain call before you knew it and before you wanted it to.
You couldn’t help but admire the sheer physicality of the performers, whose stamina throughout their relentless performance was undeniable. Their precision and sense of timing was impeccable, demonstrated nowhere better than in a routine involving a rapid flickering of cigarette lighters creating an effect which was reminiscent of a string of Christmas lights. The physical prowess of the performers impressed as they undertook what can only be described as a percussionist parkour; utilising and clambering over the set and props and leaving you in no doubt that they were giving it their all.
With a static backdrop, covered in objects which transform into impromptu percussion instruments, the set was straight forward, but both the set and the performance were enhanced by some subtle but very intelligent lighting which also worked as a distraction tool, allowing the performers to disappear and reappear elsewhere, adding to the energy and vibrancy of the piece. The sounds of the beats, bangs and stomps, as the cast belted them out, were so loud that they resonated in the chest and added to the excitement of the performance.
The show was also peppered with a lot of humour. A few looks, glances or exaggerated gestures exchanged between the cast members conveyed a simple narrative and each individual performer managed to develop an unassuming on-stage persona, which separated out the cast members from each other.
The show was far better than expected and the combinations of skills on display were both impressive and enjoyable. STOMP is certainly deserving of their reputation after 25 years of tours and performances and the show has much more to it than you might expect.
STOMP is at the Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until 8th November 2014 (http://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/ ) before continuing on its national tour. For details, visit http://www.stomp.co.uk/location/uk/
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.