ComedyDramaNorth WestReview

Cooped – Liverpool Playhouse

Writers: Cal McCrystal, Aitor Basauri, Stephan Kreiss, Petra Massey, Toby Park

Director: Cal McCrystal

Comedy four-piece Spymonkey are celebrating their 20-year anniversary and what better way to do so than with the revival of their 2001 show Cooped, what the cast have described as a “demented pulp gothic romance”, which believe you me only just about scratches the surface, as this is a show like no other!

Essentially this is a show within a show, as a manic German expressionist actor (Stephen Kreiss), a Spanish soap-opera heartthrob, (Aitor Basauri) an international megastar, if you live in Spain or Paraguay. Then there is actress Mandy Bandy, (Petra Massey), an up and coming newcomer, who is still a bit wet-behind-the-ears but ready to throw herself into the role join forces with a traditional English thespian (Toby Park) for a rather unique production.

Set at the stately home of Forbes Murdston, right in the heart of Northumberlandshirehampton, Laura du Lay arrives to help her new employee find out more about his family tree. However, Murdston, it seems is hiding a dark secret. Will Du Lay live long enough to uncover the truth about her new boss and his rather peculiar butler, Klaus? However, it is not just her new employer’s erratic behaviour that Dy Lay has to deal with but also her own personal demons as well. Her only friend in the world is family lawyer, Roger Parchment, who has romantic designs on our young heroine.

Two words describe Cooped, total insanity: in addition to our damsel in distress, English Lord, butler and lawyer, there other characters that include: a bishop, a monk, a police officer a good Samaritan, a selfish incarnation of Mother Teresa, a ghostly apparition, some folk singers, and some unhouse trained robotic pheasants. Where they all fit in, I can’t really say, but the show isn’t about the plot it’s about just how far this super talented group of performers will go to make you laugh.

From playing songs on some glass bottles to naked dancing there is nothing they won’t do. The influence of The Three Stooges features heavily throughout with so much of what the troupe do relying on physical comedy, you cannot help but marvel at their skill and bravery as performers.

It’s far easier to describe what influences run through the show than to give any more plot details, but there are elements of the Carry On films, Hammer Horror, the Wicker Man, Biblical Epics, and of the course popular, now retired cabaret act Benidorm stalwart, ‘Sticky Vicky’.

This is physical comedy at its finest: clever, witty absurd, and just downright funny. The comic quartet are masters at their craft and are guaranteed to put a smile on your face, yes at times its crude and some may find some of the religious gags a bit risqué, but the aim isn’t to shock or offend, just make you smile and entertain and it certainly achieves that and more. Leave your brain at the entrance and be prepared to go along for the ride because two hours ‘cooped’ with these nutters will be well worth your time.

Runs until 8 June 2019 | Image: Jane Hobson

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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