Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, and touring
If Ballet is about Rhythm, Movement, Coordination, Subtlety of Expression and Meaningful Communication with the audience, then this is Ballet. But not like ballet you have seen before - no tutus, no pretty colours, no orchestra.
The stage is a ramshackle collection of cauldrons, buckets, oil drums, on a backgoround of road signs - Go, Stop, 60. At each side of the stage are sets of loudspeakers, three large and one enormous.
A large man with a mohican hair style, multiple tattoos and baggy clothing starts sweeping up - but more rhythmically than one might expect - and this develops into a high speed sweeping- brush routine, loud, musical and clever, with the audience encouraged to join in the clapping at appropriate points. Eight players - the troupe for the evening out of a group of sixteen - the others are on tomorrow, I guess - dance with the brushes with such vigour that at least four lose their heads and have to be replaced - that's the brushes not the players.
The evening continues with variations on the music that is made from matchboxes, cigarette packets, cutlery, hosepipes, plastic cups, and plastic bags- I knew there must be a use for them - and truly, four kitchen sinks. These were interspersed with the development of individual personalities from the players - one who is the boss, another the idiot, somewhere in between is always a loser whose show is destroyed in mid act, a comic who does a brief transvestite demonstration, two women who beat hell out of the drums, and a grand finale, where the audience are brought to their feet to participate in a battering finale on all the equipment on the stage, with the addition of four old style silver metal dustbins and their lids..
As for the tutus, they are represented by a motley collection of baggy pants, torn t-shirts, inelegant shorts, and a spattering of tattoos.
Stomp was created in 1991, and is directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, with a cast recruited from round the world and melded into an ensemble of rhythm and magic, almost unbelievable in its performance - but I saw and it is true.
John Johnson reviewed this production in Northampton
Reviewer: Philip Seager