3pm. Ambassadors Theatre, Leicester Square. A surprisingly quaint and delicate little venue in light of the spectacle’s reputation. On stage: caging, water butts, saucepans, drainpipes, stop signs, go signs, signs of a stomp-fest well in thumping order. 3.02. On walks Adam Buckley, stomper number one. Kitted out in cargo pants, wife beater, shaven head and twinkle-in-eye to go. A broom, a floor, an audience tapping their toes in eager anticipation. Let’s go.
Stomp is a master class in percussive rhythm, movement and music. The moment Buckley’s broom sweeps the floor in a classy chassé the crowd are in, as are his 7 broom-wielding team mates. As the cast assemble we sense this theatre ticket is onto something special. Dreadlocks, bandanas, overalls, DM’s, dust and a vigorous display of fine teamwork paves the way for 1 hour and 40 minutes of Stomp’s 20 year legacy on glorious display.
Exuberant post-performance chatter finds us divided on favourite scenes: “the sinks… that sandy bit with the dusty stamping… surely the rubber rings or when the guy ripped his head through the Guardian?” My family have clearly forgotten the scene where 6 of the drummers suspend from the downstage wall by their waists, free to swing from dangling paint pot to weaved drain pipe, wherever the “appears spontaneous but is actually right on the button” choreography took them.
The Brighton-based creators Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas’ have phenomenal tricks up their frayed sleeves, two decades since their show’s premiere at 1991’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the project’s energy marches on, clearly benefitting from the continual flow of new talent performing in The West End, Broadway and Worldwide tours. “Something for everybody” heads the billboards in a standard marketing effort, but proof comes with the giggling delight of Saturday matinee’s family crowd alongside keen thespian types in the front row. We are all suitably patronised during audience participation moments of simple hand claps and finger clicks every once in a dustbin slamming, staff knocking time. Humiliating though our clear inability to follow the basic rhythms is, it equally offers a spectacular platform for our performers true skill in comparison with our messy efforts. Hailing from dance degree backgrounds to time spent on comedy circuits, the cast are a truly diverse sight to behold. And yet, so slick.
“For everyone” includes Basketballers, Comedy Soc, Eco-Warriors (“York need a junk band” my inner-entrepreneur resolves), Performance Artists and Dancers galore. I plea with Fusion committee to take a look at what Stomp has to offer; the best example of eclectic sound and style I’ve seen on stage yet. Samba York, sign me up.