Stomp, created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, has been playing at The Ambassadors Theatre on West Street in London since September 2007. Prior to that, it was at the Vaudeville Theatre since September 2002.
I always like to talk about what the Theatre is like because it is as important as what shows there. If anyone were to say they’re all the same, then they haven’t been to them all. They are as unique as the play or musical showing. I was trying to think of a word to describe the theatre – intimate comes to mind. It has two seating sections (Stalls and Dress Circle). It’s not a large theatre but it is this that makes it possible for the actors to interact with the audience so well… in other words, the venue is perfect for this show. The Dress Circle is on a steep incline… the seats not very comfortable but fine for the duration of the show. It’s not so much uncomfortable but old, perhaps and in need of repair or replacement (the seat/cushion came off on the seat beside me). There were several crests painted that were interesting / gave character along with the ornamentation. It’s an older looking theatre but in a good way.
For a small stage, it’s a big performance! There’s just enough room for the 8 performers and their props. I was pleasantly surprised to find it a full house (at least from what I could see in the Dress Circle, likely the same in the Stalls). It was nice to see so many attend as the performance is definitely intense and should be appreciated. I remember thinking before the performance started that the theatre was pretty dusty and had amusingly wondered if it was part of the props… well, yes it was. It must be from the dancing, shuffling, sweeping, and so on.
Before I go any further, I will say that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It depends on what you’re expecting for ‘West End Theatre’ and if you have the kind of attitude to have fun wherever you go.
However, having said that, I thought it was fabulous. The performers must get such an intense workout from every performance. I would think they must be exhausted and/or sore. It’s amazing the sounds that can be created with everyday things such as brooms, boxes of matches, dustpans/brooms, small garbage cans, large garbage cans, tin buckets, plastic pipes, kitchen sinks (including rubber gloves, dishes, and water), inner tubes, sticks, big blue drums/barrels, garbage bag, lighters, chairs, newspapers, and large water bottles. That’s just external items… that doesn’t include the music they make just by using their hands and feet – clapping snapping, slapping, tapping. Not only were they on the stage but on the back wall as well, sometimes in harnesses swinging back and forth – amazing! They’re bodies just must be vibrating throughout the show. I know it was loud at times from where I was sitting and that my hands / arms hurt from clapping so much, so I can’t imagine knocking sticks together or banging on garbage cans or slapping your thighs/hands, etc constantly for the approximate 100 minutes they perform (without intermission).
I was very impressed… loved the comedy… loved the talent… loved the stamina… loved the interaction with the audience. And when I left there, I could hear music everywhere… from my footsteps to the fastening of my seatbelt to the clicking of my tongue (had to make my own music) to the typing on the keyboard. That’s the way it should be… we should find music everywhere and appreciate it. Way to go Stomp!
by Ann Kamran (stagetalk.co.uk)