All of a sudden, the world is full of rhythmic noise: footsteps tapping, train wheels clacking, car doors slamming, computer keys clicking. Just as some pictures can heighten your awareness of color and shape,
heightens your awareness of sound. How percussive the world is! Electrifying and funny (now there's an unusual combination),
, currently at the Merriam Theater, is a wildly enjoyable show.
It's been running for 13 years in New York. And before that in London. And it looks and feels as frisky and high-voltage as ever.
And, unbelievably, the tickets are cheaper now than they were two years ago when Stomp was last in town.
The show has no dialogue. Six men and two women (tiny but mighty) bang and crash garbage-can lids and matchboxes and anything else they can get their hands on. And their feet. Sometimes comically playful, sometimes fiercely tribal, Stomp is a witty and energetic celebration of rhythm.
It begins quietly with brooms sweeping the stage; this ordinary job becomes wildly extraordinary - a symphony of swishing and knocking. Cleaning up is the "through line" of the show, going from brooms to buckets, making joyful noise as they go. They throw sand on the floor for the hardest, loudest "soft shoe" imaginable, then have to clean up the sand with dust pans and brushes. A sink brigade arrives with huge metal sinks hung around their necks - wait until you hear the noise they can make with rubber gloves and some water. Then they mess around with plungers, and then, necessarily, mops. They can make music out of anything.
Best examples of the spirit of the piece: One of the women rushes across the stage shrieking gleefully, having discovered the hair-raising noise a metal measuring tape makes as she snaps it in the air. Then three of the performers sit around with a big trash bag. They take stuff out - empty soda containers with straws, old coffee cans, paper bags, plastic bags - and create a complex "song" with them. Later the whole group will sit around and create a fugue of newspaper rustling as they pretend to read.
The set is an immense wall of metal signs and pots and pans and hubcaps and pipes - and in a spectacular finale (which isn't really the end - don't leave!) they "play the wall," suspended from harnesses. The lighting design swings between razzle-dazzle and moody dark-alley effects.
Heavily tattooed, magnificently muscled, goofily haired, the Stompers' creds are rich and various: trained as dancers, actors, drummers, singers, and musicians, they wear paint-spattered urban/industrial chic, and somehow create individual personalities: two sexy alpha males, two ferocious women, the clown, the nerd - well, you'll find your favorites. Bring the kids, bring the sullen teenagers, bring the great aunt from Tulsa - Stomp is irresistible.