Two weeks after experiencing the wonder that is Stomp, the sounds of soil crunching as the dancers shuffle along the stage, the rustle of plastic bags and the clang of bins still echo in my head.
Vivid, engaging, loud and utterly enthralling, Stomp at Teatro in Montecasino, Fourways, is an experience best experienced.
Created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas in the UK, this unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy draws you in at hello, which you never actually get and may find yourself willing the performers to say something, but they never do.
Instead the performers communicate with their bodies and the music they make with everything from teacups and spoons to shopping trolleys, sinks, drums and traffic signs.
They create a language through claps and stomps, rhythm without the rhyme, and wild dance moves choreographed to perfection.
A lone man walks out to the stage; he acknowledges your presence and invites you to join in his clapping song.
It’s easy enough to follow and soon the whole room is one big orchestra.
The tempo picks up a few fold, the rest want to keep up.
Faster, faster, faster it goes and soon he is the only one clapping and stomping to a spastic rhythm and we’re all leaning into his performance. Then stop! He’s still and a child’s laughter rings across the theatre.
Everyone joins in the laughter and I wish I had that same freedom – that of the child who can’t contain her joy and that of the performer who got lost in the music of his making.
Stomp is so well curated and choregraphed that you forget that the music you hear is being made as it is being performed.
There are no background tracks to enhance the performances; every bass, every hiss and each beat is made by the performers as they dance.
So well planned and executed is Stomp that I suspect author Jane Swan, who said: “How is it that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?”, would have laughed at the wordless stories told, been terrified by some of the gravity-defying performances and aspired to keep up with the clapping man.
The “narrator”, a wispy young man with the build and fashion sense of a prime schoolground bully target, introduced one such funny wordless story.
He sits at a makeshift desk reading his newspaper. Soon an interloper comes and has clearly never heard of personal space.
Another sidles up to him, and then another and another.
Soon the poor narrator is boxed in by people making the strangest noises – including grunts and sneezes – that somehow make pleasant music amid a cacophony of rustling newspapers.
Almost as soon as he decides to join in the ruckus everyone suddenly stops and they give him the stink eye for making a noise.
And on and on it goes, with the narrator introducing a performance with flexible polypropylene pipes, another with water drums, aluminum cans and lids, kitchen sinks complete with water and dishes, massive tire tubes, and a gravity-defying number performed in the air strapped on harnesses.
The show does drag on for a while, but just as you’re about to lose interest in the loudness of it all, it crashes from a drum-splitting crescendo and starts with a fresh round of clapping that drags the audience back to the now for a final procession of ridiculously over-the-top uses of household items that grow in scale and comedy.
Stomp is a fresh take on music and dance.
It’s as energetic as it is creative and throughout it stingily holds back on the words you feel are on the cusp of pouring out of the performers’ mouths, creating a new avenue of communication that involves you and is for you.
Catch it at the Teatro in Montecasino until September 8. Tickets are R150 to R400 at computicket.com