REVIEW: Stomp - Theatre Royal, Newcastle, until Saturday, August 18

A scene from rhythmic spectacular Stomp.
A scene from rhythmic spectacular Stomp.

If you liked the Muppets, Laurel and Hardy, and the Riverdance, I've found just the thing for you!

Remember Animal, the madcap drummer in the iconic puppet show of the 1970s, the silent slapstick of the famous comedy duo and the rhythmic coordination of the fabulous Irish troupe? There are elements of these and many other genres wrapped up in Stomp.

If you're a fan of tap-dancing, street dancing, gymnastics, acrobatics, circus ... or if you just want a darn good evening's entertainment, book now!

Stomp is an uninterrupted hour and 40 minutes of pure percussion heaven that will bring out the frustrated drummer in you and get your feet tapping and hands clapping.

In highly polished routines, the performers use every object imaginable to create sounds - from tin cans and dustbin lids to shopping trolleys and gigantic tyre inner-tubes, everything including the kitchen sink (and rubber gloves for good measure).

It kicks off with a single guy sweeping the stage, toying with the sounds of brush head and handle. One by one, he is joined by the rest of the crew as their beat builds to a crescendo of noise. It is so remarkably well drilled that you never get the feeling that one of the cans flying in all directions will accidentally hit the deck or a ball will bounce from someone's grasp into the audience - it is all so effortless, yet full of energy and dynamism. Barely a word is spoken throughout.

Each pastiche is genius in making complex routines look simple. They range from a wonderful sketch using newspapers, either crumpled or rolled to create instruments, to spectacular, almost gladiatorial fight scenes. I was tempted to ask how many fingers had been lost in the making of the show, such was the ferocity of the blows of stick on stick.

Cast members are dressed in grunge garb and workmen's boots for maximum stomping effect, and they play in front of a colossal wall of various items to bash. At times, it's quite deafening, but contrasting scenes using match boxes, slinky tubes or paper bags add subtlety.

There is a danger that the concept could become monotonous, but somehow this variety and the continuous comic touches and characterisation of the performers kept the audience gripped throughout. The standing ovation at the end of yesterday's show was rich reward for a job well done.

And as a nice touch, the sound of Aretha Franklin's Respect accompanied the final curtain call on the day one of the world's greatest performers sadly passed away.

Stomp continues today (Friday, August 17 - matinee 2pm, evening 7.30pm) and tomorrow (Saturday, August 18 - matinee 2.30pm, evening 7.30pm). Tickets from £14 can be purchased online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal box office on 08448 11 21 21 (calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge).