PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 October, 1998, 12:00am

Stomp - APA Lyric Theatre, Wan Chai, until October 25 Domestic helpers all over town will be finding themselves relieved of dishwashing duties in the next couple of weeks.

The irresistible legacy - and this is something you can try at home, children - of an evening spent with eight hyperactive performers bounding around a stage, extracting a glorious racket from everything from tin cans to pots and pans, is to pick up a spoon yourself and start bashing your kitchenware.

Even those secret toe-tappers in the opening-night audience who were able to sit almost still for the whole 100 minutes will have discovered by now that a secret percussionist lurks inside us all.

From humble beginnings straight out of an Ionescu play - man pushes broom across stage - does an almighty din grow. Less absurd are the percussive effects that broom can achieve, especially when multiplied and thrashed past breaking point. Into their stride in a flash, the cast resembles an enthusiastic cockroach-squashing squadron as they crash, bang and wallop their brushes to destruction.

'Kerrang! Kerrang! Kerrang! Kerr-chang!' might look like a print rendering of industrial noise pollution, but you'd be astounded to hear how entrancing a scuffed dustbin can sound when battered with a stick.

Stomp's symphony in scrap hits a (disappointingly short) crescendo with an assault on a towering wall of bicycle and car wheels, hub caps, road signs, number plates, fire extinguishers, oil drums, buckets, boxes and canisters, the whole lot brought to life in a rhythmic frenzy leaning heavily on the tenets of funk and samba reggae.

The military precision of this intricately choreographed ballet with boots on - they really do stomp - is never borne out more clearly than in the dustbin-lid dance; so powerful and rapid are the crunching, smashing 'steps' that cast members must stagger black-eyed from rehearsals.

But there's daintiness and elegance amid the clamour too: the beat of a pen tapped against teeth; the pulse of a newspaper tickled against a crate (before being inventively ripped to resemble a Chinese festival dragon); the surprisingly sensuous sound a scraped tea chest makes; the precision of a 'tribal dance' with wooden staves; the delicate effect of a rapped rubber hose 'played' in an inadvertent take on Tubular Bells.

Styrofoam cups and drinking straws, tin cigar boxes, plastic bags, plumbers' plungers, saws, tape measures, wallpaper strippers, even human bodies . . . all have secret musical lives, revealed here.

The 'oomph' and acrobatics of this mesmerising 'circus' produce another natural high with the appearance of the most outlandish 'skiers' ever seen off-piste; and if you don't believe sawdust can get rhythm while being ground into the floor, prepare to be converted.

Synchronisation is the key, especially in the hilarious, Norman Wisdom-inspired 'incompetence' of the stooge, and helps to make this joyous, riotous blur a hit with children of all ages. And yes, they do play the kitchen sink.


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