Review: Cooped at the Playhouse

Date: 05/06/2019

You don’t go to a Spymonkey show wondering whether you’re going to enjoy it. Neither do you wonder whether you’re going to see something that will make you grin, shake your head and tut – all at the same time.

You just are. It’s Spymonkey – and this restaging of their 2013 show Cooped is a hoot, a riot, a giddy medley of humour both sophisticated and gross.

There is no flab, no gristle to this pastiche of the gothic novel. The genre is sent up, turned upside down and given a damn good seeing to by the four familiar pillars of the physical comedy troupe.

There’s a haunted house, a turbulent romance and plenty of absurd characters. Frankly, who cares about the plot. What we have here is a series of set pieces: Toby Park attempting to “help up” a rigid Petra Massey; Aitor Basauri and Stephan Kreiss hurling one another around the stage as their fig leaves (and more besides) flap around; an extended bout of flatulence and the cast simply doing their level best to make each other corpse.

Park, rather like an indulgent schoolmaster, presides over the chaos. Massey simpers absurdly. Kreiss sneers and gurns. Basauri plays the fool. It’s an irresistible ensemble: honed through years of working together; perfected by repetition, instinct and clownish chemistry.

Remote-controlled pheasants, more bare flesh than an episode of Love Island and perfectly-executed ridiculousness that parodies theatricality while celebrating it. Cooped is the acme of physical farce and a slab of pure enjoyment for two perfect hours.

Liverpool Playhouse
Until 8 June

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