BWW Reviews: STOMP Still Bringing Down the House!
My first experience with Stomp was when I was working at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston in the late 90s as a theatre manager. I recall watching from the back as small bits of plaster floated to the ground. The old building didn't know what it was in for.
I'm glad to say that some 15 years later, STOMP is still bringing the house down. The tour currently at Washington's National Theatre is as fresh as when I first saw it. While my memories of every bit and sequence are not perfect, I'm fairly certain there were things in the show I hadn't seen before.
The terrific cast, made up of some combination of Ivan Delaforce, Eric Fay, Andres Fernandez, Cammie Griffin, Mike Hall, Delaunce Jackson, Karisma Jay, Guido Mandozzi, Andre Meggerson, Nancy Rubio, John Sawicki and Carlos Thomas glided, danced, swept, jumped and stomped in ways that delighted and rocked the theatre. Unfortunately the program lists the entire company and we're never really told which 8 folks out of that crew we're seeing.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, STOMP is an evening of percussion vignettes where the performers use ordinary, everyday objects to produce all kinds of sounds. The formula for most of the scenes is one that builds. For instance, the show opens with one guy sweeping the stage, one-by-one the entire company joins him until suddenly you're listening to a full-on broom symphony. A similar formula is used with trash can lids, items from a trash bag, lighters, newspapers and literally dozens of other objects. The result is a truly entertaining evening.
Though there's no story per se, all of the performers play a somewhat stock character giving the audience somewhat of a through line. There's the quiet bearded hipster, the village idiot, the boss, the sassy friend, etc. Either way, the formula works and it's clear that STOMP has succeeded for a reason.
There was only one moment where I felt pulled out of the show and it's one I've discussed with a number of friends. In one scene, the whole company is reading newspapers. The larger guy in the company is clearly playing that crazy guy many of us know from many train platforms. At one point, he balls up the newspaper and sticks it under his shirt, simulating breasts. He proceeds to dance around awkwardly pretending he's a woman and even manages some fairly impressive twerking. For that one moment though, the show felt extremely dated for me. It was one of the only real juvenile moments and I think we're growing past mocking gender stereotypes. Not to say it didn't get a laugh - I just think STOMP can do better.
Overall though, I'm glad to see STOMP still has folks thinking about trash can lids just a little bit differently than they did before.
STOMP is running through Sunday, February 9th at The National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20004. Tickets are available at www.thenationaldc.org.