Created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas
REVIEW DAVID ZAMPATTI
Perth is having a run of shows from what might be called the International Cirquet.
These high-production, big-top inspired extravaganzas follow in the footsteps of Cirque du Soleil (whose own Michael Jackson - the Immortal arrives here in a month). Empire, which finishes a long run at Crown on Sunday, August 25, is all about the acrobats; the clowns were here recently in the outstanding Slava's Snowshow; and now we've got people who bang things together in the latest version of Stomp.
Stomp is one of the most venerable and successful of the type. Launched in Britain in 1991 by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas (who, I note with happy admiration, was an original member of the much-loved Flying Pickets), it now has five companies on the road around the world, and returns here for the fourth time.
It's trained its audience well. There was much hootin' and hollerin' from the stalls as the eight-strong company banged, crashed and walloped their way through a dozen or so routines, mostly in overdrive.
The hook - and it's a good one - is to make noise on "found" objects, so there's much banging of tins and steel drums and shopping trolleys, bits of pipe and even more unlikely instruments. It's wordless, and all but tuneless, but it's appealingly democratic and liberating. The message is that rhythm is everywhere if you choose to make it - and it's free.
The show's other liberating message is about body shape and size. This is no cast of elfin ballerinas or, with one spectacular exception, strapping hoofers. Stomp has all sorts (a couple of whom seemed to be exerting themselves far more than is healthy for blokes of their, um, magnitude).
All of which gives the show an authentic street feel, anchored by the performers' tight musicality and some good old-fashioned Laurel and Hardy humour, often perpetrated by the fat guy (Gus Little) on the hapless fall guy (Paul Bent).
It's also generous, with plenty of nods and winks to the front rows and a fair bit of very impressive audience participation, cajoled and adjudicated by the big guy (Cameron Newlin) who opens and closes proceedings and acts as the de facto MC. The rest of the opening-night company (the cast rotate each performance), including the tiny, no-holds-barred Leilani Dibble, are more intent on banging and crashing than byplay, but that's fine.
Look, I'd rather spend 90 minutes on the rack than locked in a room with, say, the Freo Sambanistas, and, for all its skill, inventiveness and muscle power, even Stomp wore me down after a while.
One little, quiet routine with a row of cigarette lighters flickering in the dark was as sweet as a Christmas carol, and the pulverising rubbish-can finale was as rousing for me as it clearly was for an up-and-cheering audience, but I confess to checking my watch a couple of times. It was a bit too long before the stomping stopped.Stomp ends on Sunday.