20-24 October 2015
Reviewed by Angela Paull
Last night we went to see Stomp at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. The Mayflower is a fabulous old theatre in the heart of the city and is surrounded by several car parks. It has a bar, restaurant and lovely squashy seats to make for comfortable viewing throughout the show (very important for this show as there was no interval).
Prior to seeing the show I just had a vague idea that it was something to do with making music with dustbins. Dustbins are involved but only for about the last 10 minutes of the show. Stomp was much much more than I expected. It runs for about 100 minutes and I was gripped and enthralled for each and every one of them.
This is quite some feat considering that, apart from the odd “Alright” at the beginning of the show, there is no dialogue at all.
The show opens with a lone sweeper who discovers that he can make music with his broom. One by one the other 7 members of the cast join him on stage until they are essentially a broom orchestra. This is just the start of a number of routines involving “instruments” that you would not normally consider – trolleys, carrier bags, rubber tubing, matchboxes, newspapers are all used to amazing effect. You would also not believe how musical the body can be when you slap it, pat it and stamp your feet!
However the show is more than just the music. The choreography involved in some of the routines was breath-taking as the performers wielded large wooden sticks in the style of Kendo Warriors and wheeled shopping trolleys into each other with wild abandon. There was also a routine that involved them juggling progressively larger paint tins between themselves (whilst all the while still playing them) and it was utterly seamless.
What really surprised me most about the show though was the comedy. It verged on slapstick at times with an obvious “fall guy”, visual jokes around genital size and a scene involving 4 men wearing kitchen sinks that wouldn’t have been out of place at a gents’ urinal. A highlight for me was during a newspaper routine where the back of one of the performers heads somehow managed to resemble Beaker from the Muppets. Slightly juvenile? Yes, but I laughed until I almost cried.
It is a show that’s loud, and proudly so. The comedic moments give the ears a rest from time to time as did a beautiful routine involving flip top lighters. At this point the entire theatre was cloaked in darkness and all 8 performers created a visually impressive scene by just lighting and extinguishing their lighters in an intricate pattern that the Blackpool Illuminations would have been proud of.
The finale of the show was when we got to see the dustbin playing in action and it certainly was impressive, with 3 members of the cast walking in atop massive oil drums at one point. It’s certainly a physical show but at no point did the cast tire and nor did their enthusiasm waver, they seemed to be having a fantastic time too.
One rousing round of applause and they were back for an encore. This involved some audience participation where we were encouraging to copy a clapping and stamping routine. All so simple until the rhythms got progressively more complicated and we collectively failed, but this just served to provide a final laugh at the finish.
The audience ranged from teenagers to pensioners and, judging by the standing ovation the cast received at the end, the show was universally enjoyed by them all.
Stomp was created in 1991 and on the strength of last night’s performance there is no reason to suppose it won’t still be in existence in another 15 years, and beyond.
I really don’t have the superlatives to describe just how impressive this show was. I rate it 6 out of 5 – yes it really is that good!
Tickets cost from £20.50 to £32.50 (booking fees may apply).
Stomp is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until 24 October 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811