Cooped (review)

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The lunatics were let out of the asylum last night for 90 minutes of sheer mayhem at the Royal & Derngate Theatre.

Yes Spymonkey are back with a revival of an old show that harks back to an even earlier era.

Cooped is a pastiche of the old Hammer Horror films from the 1960s and ‘70s (that didn’t include Frankenstein!). It opens with a shadowy figure in a cape murdering a woman and proceeds, at breakneck pace, through every cliché in the vintage thriller book.

The press release said: “When beautiful, fawn-like Laura du Lay arrives in the remote county of Northumberlandhamptonshire to take up her position as confidential secretary to the reclusive Forbes Murdston, she uncovers a tangled web of murder, love and mistaken identity. She has ignored for as long as she can the unsettling rumours that surround her new employer, his ominous manservant Klaus and the ancient mansion. But Murdston’s violent mood-swings can only signify one thing...” cut to a knowing look from our protagonist.

It was set in a rambling country pile (complete with incontinent pheasants and ghostly figure that haunts the lift) owned Murdston (Toby Park). He hires himself a new PA and she turns out to be a sexy blonde in a micro-mini with a penchant for farting and having fits.

The lord of the manor isn’t your regular Joe either. One minute he’s utterly charming and the next he’s trying to strangle the hapless Laura.

Add into the mix a quite barking mad German butler and a former Spanish soap star who has been reduced to playing all the other character parts and you have one of the most insane and unhinged company of actors to grace the Royal stage.

Spymonkey’s reputation has grown markedly over the years and with it their audiences at the R & D. Their offbeat, fringe-style, physical comedy is infectious and once you’ve seen one show you can’t wait to see more. They’re always original, always hysterically funny in that crazy, madcap way, and will always put a smile on your face.

Last night’s opener had everyone crying with laughter (or open-mouthed in astonishment depending on your capacity to shock) when the first half ended with one of the most shocking scenes I’ve ever seen.

I hope you’re reading this after the watershed because I have to reveal that there was nudity. Yes, there, said it. Sadly the rather handsome leading man, Toby Park, opted for a sheer body suit. But the audience were inflicted with Aitor Basauri and Stephan Kreiss in the all-together and it wasn’t a pretty sight. The fourth gang member, Petra Massey, also came on sans clothing and then the guys refused to let her off stage.

I’m not sure what the scene added to the story but it increased the audience’s enjoyment immensely. Everyone left for the interval with the biggest smiles that I’ve ever seen on their faces.

The whole performance is sheer insanity from start to finish and I loved every second of it. There are remote controlled pheasants, Kreiss playing a tune on the drinks trolley bottles, a couple of songs thrown in, and some semblance of a story.

Spymonkey’s unique brand of craziness never fails to entertain. Brilliant!

Get Cooped up with Spymonkey. Running until Saturday. For tickets call the box office 01604 624811 or visit