Stomp '09Stomp '09, which is now touring Australia and New Zealand and opened in Melbourne this week, is a wonderfully manic blend of dance, music and comedy. Eight incredibly energetic performers create infectious rhythms using their bodies and every conceivable ordinary, everyday 'instrument': booted feet, hands and bodies combine with sand, rubber hoses, rubbish bags, brooms, paint tins and a host of other mundane items to ignite the stage and the audience.

STOMP reportedly started life in 1991 as a single drum hanging around the neck of Luke Cresswell, a self taught percussionist from Brighton, England. As a session drummer and rhythm programmer he has worked with the likes of Bette Midler, Elvis Costello and Bryan Ferry. When Cresswell teamed up with Steve McNicholas, an actor/singer/musician/writer from Yorkshire, an original member of the a capella group The Flying Pickets, the original STOMP was born and has now entertained some 14 million people across 43 countries from London's West End, where it has run for six years, to the US, earning an Olivier Award and a gig at the Oscars ceremony. It now encompasses 100 performers over five companies. That's some success and heightens the expectations of any audience member. Stomp '09 introduces new music and choreography along with eight wonderfully athletic and energetic performers.

Early in the performance, which runs for 80 minutes, I found myself wondering where else they could go, having started with brooms, sand and a soft shoe shuffle: what was left that would be new and exciting? As it turned out, plenty. The performers create eight very distinctive characters, each with their own style and idiosyncrasies, and add an entertaining mix of comedy, both broad and subtle, to the dance and rhythm making. Paul Bend is the standup, a tall skinny comic who never quite gets things right. In contrast there's the tough guy complete with mohawk (John Sawicki) and the working man in overalls Nathanial Conroy. But it is totally unfair to single out any one of the eight, which also includes R J Samson, Keith Middleton (a tall slender black man complete with long dreads), Aideen Gallagher; Sarah Lasaki, and Troy Sexton, because this is truly an ensemble work. The eight work together as a well integrated team: you need to see the sequence which has paint tins of various sizes flying across the stage to create a distinctive rhythm without missing a beat. It's a cross between juggling, dance and percussion.

It is astonishing and exhilarating to experience what can be done without words – just body language and found sound. The momentum steadily builds, with the audience slowly but surely being drawn into the action, to culminate in a loud and enthusiastic finale with performers and audience working together to create they music.

Stomp '09 is fast, furious and very funny.

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Pte Ltd and David Atkins Enterprises Pty Ltd, Glynis Henderson Productions and Stomp Productions present

Venue: Canberra Theatre, Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra
Dates: Tuesday 7 April to Sunday 12 April
Bookings: Canberra Ticketing 02 6275 2700 |

Venue: Princess Theatre, 163 Spring Street, Melbourne
Dates: Tuesday 14 April to Sunday 19 April
Bookings: Ticketek 1300 795 012 |

Theatre Royal, 108 King Street, Sydney
Dates: Tuesday 21 April to Sunday 26 April
Bookings: Ticketek 1300 795 012 |

Burswood Theatre, Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood
Dates: Tuesday 28 April to Sunday 3 May
Bookings: Ticketek 1300 795 012 |

Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre | Cnr Grey & Melbourne Streets, South Bank
Dates: Tuesday 5 May to Sunday 10 May
Bookings: QTIX 136 246 |

Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide
Dates: Tuesday 12 May to Sunday 17 May
Bookings: Bass 131 246 |


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