Review: ‘Stomp’ longevity lives up to the hype

By Cale Blakely

 

There’s a good reason “Stomp” has lasted for a staggering 32 years.

The person sitting behind me put it best, exclaiming to their companion after Nov. 15 show in Eisenhower Auditorium, “That was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen! I loved it.”

The production’s flair was instantly apparent, with a towering structure built out of various junk greeting the audience. Stop signs, pots, pans, barrels, and a hodgepodge of other items were all built into the set, and, along with the costumes, created an aesthetic appearance best likened to “grunge.”

Each piece of the set was intricately placed and vital to the performance, teasing items the group would use next in their performance. Plastic barrel drums produced a booming bass, metal buckets created a sharp crack, and segmented tubing made different pitches as other instruments slid up and down them. At one point, the group was even suspended from the ceiling on wires, using the entire upper platform of the stage as a drum kit, bouncing around on cables the whole while.

The entire show was an impressive display of athleticism and musicality from the actors. Gymnastic feats and balancing acts paired well with the wall of sound produced from their makeshift instruments, making the experience incredibly engaging to watch as well as hear.

The performers seemed larger than life, with the lighting producing massive shadows of them as they created their music, blending the performer and their instrument into some kind of otherworldly musical being.

For a show with no dialogue, the characters were still very distinct. Each performer had a unique personality, displayed both through their percussion and nonverbal acting. Some were comedic characters whose musical stings served more to provide the audience with laughs, while others were more serious, focusing on dazzling feats of percussive expertise as their performance outlet.

Although the show was primarily rhythm-focused, the personality the musicians put into their performance served to heighten the show beyond that of a typical concert, making “Stomp” even more unique.

I honestly can’t say I’ve seen anything remotely resembling the ensemble’s performance. I’m sure “Stomp” has an even longer life ahead of it.

Cale Blakely is a communications intern for the Center for the Performing Arts.

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