STOMP's premise is simple. Here's a bunch of tattooed toilers in their blast from the 90s cargo pants and baggy overalls– banging, beating, shaking, crumpling, and striking whatever it is they could lay their hands on. Making noise isn't exactly an art (or music) appreciated by many. But last night, the banging of garbage can lids, screeching of foldable chairs, and clanking of kitchen sinks made everyone seated at the CCP Main Theater rise up for a long and enduring standing ovation. It was such a sight to see: youngsters in their jeans, executives in their polo barongs, and foreigners in their suits were all on their foot– cheering, whistling, and howling as if they were watching a championship game in a sports arena. Never have I seen such a happy, noisy crowd at the CCP. At the very least, STOMP is a theater show unlike any other.
The show started quietly with a blue and red lit stage. A two-storey, junk shop -themed installation served as fixed set for the entire performance. From afar, numerous garbage cans, pots, pans, pipes, and water drums in all forms and sizes could be seen. The scene made me expect Oscar the Grouch to come out on cue. But instead of a hairy green muppet, a stomper entered the stage not with a bang but with a broom.
This stomper (proper name: Nigel) then did the most mundane thing one can do on stage. He swept the floor! For a good twenty seconds or more, he kept on sweeping an invisible pile of dust. “What on earth?” the thought bubbles of my row mates read. Then suddenly, everyone heard it. Swish. Swish. Thud. Thud… Swish. Swish. Thud. Thud. Nigel had just ignited the toe-tapping rhythm that was to go on for one hour and forty minutes.
The situations that followed Nigel's sweeping include mopping, washing the dishes, and reading the newspapers. Story-wise, there's very little to tell about STOMP as it's merely a medley of skits that employ slapstick humor. But even so, it managed to develop at least two characters from the rest: the bully and the bullied. It was also successful in eliciting sporadic laughter from the audiences from start to finish. With just the dancers hilarious facial expressions, STOMP was able to bring the house down.
While the scenarios in STOMP are simplistic, its choreography is a different story. The coordination is, without exaggeration, flawless. Every beat, tap, light change and pause was carefully calculated; no one missed his/her cue.
What this troupe of artists can do exceeded expectations. Watching them perform on stage made me question their humanity– their proneness to errors– many, many times. They can throw paint cans to each other while stomping, dancing, running around, and drumming and not one can falls. They can produce a hundred different sounds by just striking the different parts of their body. They can hang suspended on the wall, swing from side to side, produce beautiful, melodic beats through striking different cooking pans, all whilst the stage is pitch black in darkness. They can produce music and the most amazing dancing light display by just playing around with their metal lighters. They are crazy talented and perfect. That's what they are.
But to talk about STOMP without praising its brilliant and innovative percussion arrangements is impossible. The music, derived purely from makeshift percussive instruments, are as varied as ever. One minute you're bobbing your head to an African conga beat; the next, you're dancing in a fiesta. It was rambunctious and infectious! If only one could dance in the middle of the CCP's main theater!
There's so much to tell about STOMP but I do not want to spoil you with what to expect. STOMP, like any other great show is better experienced than talked about. It's incredibly engaging, beautifully orchestrated, and superbly executed; I'm guaranteeing that the satisfaction you'll get from it will be more than what you'd pay for.
As I'm typing this article, I hear my fingers tapping the keyboard in a rhythm that I haven't noticed in all my years of computer dependence. I clearly am still burning from the STOMP fever I caught last night. If you were with me at the CCP Main Theater yesterday, I'm sure you know what I mean. If you were not, stop whatever you are doing. Do yourself a favor and procure a ticket to the show.