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stomp
Plays Pigalle


By Andrew Jack

lettrineARIS, 9 February 1998 - Dance, percussion, mime, music, vaudeville. It is difficult to describe to the uninitiated the British group "Stomp" in a single word.

One by one, they come on stage dressed in overalls, their brooms and clucked "hellos" gathering in pace and volume as they turn apparently abstract sounds and gestures into a coherent set of rhythms and movements to please eye and ear.

stomp

The theme of work-men and -women continues throughout, with dustbins, saws, barrels and other everyday implements being turned simultaneously into instruments and props.

A collection of buckets is placed in an unexplained ring towards the back of the stage and forgotten. A group comes on together, each with an entire kitchen sink and draining board around the neck, which they use to create a variety of carefully coordinated sounds.

They edge backwards, each to stand over a bucket into which they drain the water from the sink (one with a diminishingly productive succession of trickles, droughts and squeezes best appreciated by male members of the audience).

stomp

They turn their bodies into full orchestras, combining finger-clicking, hand movements, clapping and tapping of legs and chest to create an impressive variety of sound.

In one piece they use matchboxes as their drums; in another, in the dark, they stand in a group successively and often frustratedly attempting to ignite cigarette lighters in harmony.

Some of their best numbers date from the original shows several years ago - such as a drum combination orchestrated around a mock fight, as they make to attack each other with dustbin lids. It was better - lengthier and far more menacing - when I first saw it.

Some scenes reminded me of treatments seen elsewhere: the splashing in the sink reminiscent of the long-running New York Off Broadway show "Blue men"; a man chased by giants with vicious metal batons, very similar to a scene in a piece by a Polish theatre troupe performed at the Edinburgh fringe two years ago.

Others looked a little too slick and sophisticated, as the drummers climbed scaffolding like mountaineers, to bang away on drums high on the stage.

stomp

And as for the stage itself. The Cigalle may be intimate and "fun", but it is also hugely impractical for "Stomp", at least for those on the balcony, where it only took a single selfish individual or two to block the view for dozens of theatre-goers sitting behind.

The obscurity for those not near the front was compounded by the direction, with many of the subtleties of concealed for those with restricted views, as the performer were often at the rear or to one side of the stage.

But Stomp is something to be experienced. At least once.


Stomp will be touring the United States and Canada throughout 1998.
A Stomp hot-line has been established with regional dates and ticket information at (212) 803 54 54.
There is also a Stomp website : http://www.usinteractive.com/stomp


Photo Credit: Lois Greenfield


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