One cannot accuse "Stomp" of not filling a niche, finding a unique angle -- an interesting concept -- and bringing it to life on stage through eclectic, highly energetic dance routines. But does it go far enough executing the ideas? Does "Stomp" take the genre to new, arousing heights?
For those unfamiliar with the production, which has been running Off-Broadway since 1994, the concept is set against an urban background, armed with a small assortment of colorful dancers, each with their own humor and personality. They use kitchen and household appliances to orchestrate the dance routines.
No words of dialogue are spoken. Though, somewhat reminiscent of "Blue Man Group," the dancers do find ways to communicate with each other though expression and gestures, and with the audience, as well. Some of these interactions are indeed quite funny.
The set, costumes and urban feel of the show make for a visually engaging experience. The routines themselves just aren’t that memorable, though. They are impressive, yes, in that there is certainly skill involved. These dancers are masters of their crafts and have been at this game for many moons, no doubt.
It is just all quite basic. For example, the first dance routine features brooms, and a lot of sweeping of dust. The routine isn’t overly elaborate, and the dance moves aren’t exceedingly thrilling. For those with dust allergies, it is probably better to sit in the nosebleed section of the auditorium, or bring an extra dose of Zyrtec.
Another number is set to the rhythm of tricks the dancers do with boxes of matches, which isn’t too exhilarating, either. Another routine involves sinks, and a lot of noise from banging on the metal. The show finds humor in how some of the dancers empty those sinks into buckets. But the number itself is somewhat obnoxious.
The fault lies not with the dancers but with the routines themselves. They are just kept awkwardly simple. Certainly this was intentional, perhaps hoping to create an intimate experience with the audience instead of an over-the-top one...but it is not to the benefit of entertainment value.
If you’re going to have a show in which dancers use kitchen appliances as the base of the routines, perhaps something more than basic dances involving broomsticks and matchboxes would make for a more engaging and exciting theatrical experience. After all, how much pounding on trash lids can you take before it provokes a headache?