Share this article

print logo




Continues through Sunday in Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St.

When life hands you a lemon, they say you should make lemonade.

How about when you pick up a push broom? You're supposed to just sweep with it, right?

Not according to the cast of "Stomp." According to their credo -- an unofficial variation on the "all the world's a stage" concept -- the push broom is not simply a push broom. It's a tom-tom drum, a hi-hat cymbal, a gateway to the inner workings of life's heartbeat.

But enough of that irreverent mumbo-jumbo. "Stomp" is simply awesome.

Born 13 years ago from a British percussion troupe, performing on street corners and eventually international festivals, the eight on-stage performers in today's "Stomp" use practically everything around them -- albeit on a creatively crafted set -- to make music.

Stephen "Wacki" Seracki (a name he deserves) opens the intermission-less 105-minute show with the aforementioned broom, patrolling the stage as a dust-busting stagehand might. But others join in -- first it's a tap, then it's a sweep. And then it's pandemonium.

Taking into account these people are professional dancers and percussionists, many of them having performed in the 10-years-running New York City or London casts, the physical chaos they inhabit still appears unhealthy. At times they appear at one with their ordinary, around-the-house objects (Zippo lighters, match boxes, garbage cans); other times they crisscross the stage like windup toys on Red Bull. No one should move that fast.

In another segment, the troupe's dancing shoes are worn-in. Seracki, who takes center stage throughout most of the dialogue-free show, begins a tap-and-clap combo that has him zipping in circles. He claps twice; the audience claps twice. He claps eight times; the audience, well, can't.

Between the troupe's 12 members (four serve as backstage swings) all but five were formally trained in one type of dance or another; four were formal percussionists. The abundant cohesiveness of such multidisciplinary performance art is the backbone to why "Stomp" works, though. It's not merely about dancing with a broomstick. It's got to be about more than clicks and hisses and whistles and bleeps and bumps and grinds.

It's about -- here's that existential worldly stuff again -- the rhythm of everyday life. No segment of the show illustrates this better than one of the show's subtlest bits.

Nick Pack Jr., who throughout the show is a bit of black sheep, never able to keep up with his seven pals, sits innocently on a box. He's writing by himself when he's met on the supposed park bench or street corner by four strangers. They're reading the newspaper when that frustrating center crease causes one reader's paper to fold in.

Of course the other readers have the same problem. They tear at the pages in frustration, trying to get through their briefly interrupted daily ritual. One guy even eats his in a fit of rage that rivals anything Mount St. Helen's could muster up.

Certainly less cacophonous than the bit in which two men wear large metal bins as shoes, or when suspended from the steel beam rafters they swing and bang on everything in sight, the newspaper bit is exemplary of the sort of street corner performance art on which the show was founded.

"Stomp" certainly doesn't have to make a social statement about living life to its fullest -- it can simply stand on its own two feet as a no-holds-barred assault on the senses. And it does, to great effect.

There are no comments - be the first to comment