BWW Review: COOPED, Worthing Pavilion Theatre
Cooped premiered in Switzerland in 2001 and has since enjoyed successful runs across the UK, including the Edinburgh Fringe and Brighton Comedy Festival and further afield. The gothic romance takes place in a haunted mansion in Northumberlandshirehampton where all manner of bizarre events unfolds within this show-within-a-show.
Aitor Basauri gives a hilarious performance as former Spanish soap star Alfredo Gravés, taking on various roles including a detective, a monk and a bishop who was especially fond of swishing his purple cape.
Petra Massay plays Mandy Bandy, a pop diva who plays the young girl who arrives at the house. While extremely stereotypical in some of her mannerisms she gave a stellar physically funny performance as the pin-up damsel in distress.
Toby Park is suitably suave as Forbes Murdston, the master of the house, but switches in Jekyll-and-Hyde style to a menacing alter ego. He also manages to get British awkwardness down to a tee.
Stephan Kreiss steals many scenes as the Butler, with extremely expressive mannerisms. Moments where he tries to trip up Basauri's performance garner the loudest laughs from the room.
Cal McCrystal's direction makes sure to milk every gag, on occasion to an excessive degree. The show escalates to the point where there is just complete chaos on stage.
Interspersed between the central murder mystery plot were random scenes with religious undertones, from frenetic monks to a nude Adam and Eve dance routine which seem very odd inclusions.
A throwaway remark about one of the scenes being a dream was not enough to link the ridiculous events. While randomness is essential in surreal humour, this show goes beyond absurd and could have been better crafted.
Lucy Bradridge's design transports you to a stately mansion. The large floor to ceiling window allows for many moments of visual comedy involving smart set pieces depicting dog tails and horse heads. The costumes befit their wearers well, from Kreiss' stately tails to Massay's eye-wateringly short skirts.
Entertaining, if bizarre, Cooped has much of the audience in attendance in stitches. Spymonkey have great chemistry and certainly know how to please a crowd.
Cooped at Worthing Pavilion Theatre until 26 May.
Photo credit: Sean Dennie & Jane Hobson