BWW Reviews: SPYMONKEY'S COOPED, Leicester Square Theatre, December 4 2013
Add a bit of Riff-Raff to a Young Frankenstein set up (with just a whiff of Scooby Doo), throw MAndy Rice-Davies into the mix and perhaps a soupçon of Downton and you're approaching Spymonkey's Cooped (continuing at the Leicester Square Theatre until 7 December). But it's both more and, as a result of its helter-skelter pace, less than all those. In fact, twelve years on from its premiere, it's very much itself and (whisper it) in danger of becoming something of a classic.
All the company's signatures are there - brutal physical comedy, deadpan delivery of absurd lines (leavened by just enough corpsing to let us know that the cast are in on the gag), appalling affectionate stereotyping and infectious humour. There's also some very ineffective fig leaves, so, ... well, you're warned!
The greatest strength of Spymonkey is that all four actors (Spanish heart-throb Aitor Basauri, scary German Stephan Kreiss, much abused glamourpuss Petra Massey and exasperated gent Toby Park) are very, very funny indeed individually, and hilarious working together in any combination, The laughs just keep coming!
Lucy Bradridge's country house set simply must convince if a spoof like Cooped is to work and it does so - affording sight gag after sight gag from both inside the drawing room and beyond. Director Cal McCrystal (of "One Man, Two Guvnors" no less) gets the cast on and off stage with the minimum of fuss and delivers 80 minutes of action that feels like 20. This is a fringe show with West End production values and performances from some very practised hands.
So if you're looking for December laughs and pantos are either too childish or too "adult" and you're not too prudish about some very fleshy flesh on show, you can do a lot worse than cope with Cooped. Just watch out for the ping-pong balls.