Upon seeing the description of Spymonkey’s Cooped, it is difficult to know what to think of a ‘deliciously demented take on gothic romance’. There have been many spoofs of the gothic romance genre for years with a veritable catalogue of tropes and stereotypes to contend with.
The storyline was clearly not a big part of the play, a brief gist of the plot is young Laura Du Lay, played by the hilarious and energetic Petra Massey, arrives at a gothic mansion owned by affluent landowner Forbes Murdstock, gallantly portrayed by Toby Park. Murdstock is flanked by his eccentric Germanic butler Klaus (Stephen Kreiss) and the passionate and lovestruck Spanish lawyer/pope/solicitor Aitor Basauri.
The writers of Spymonkey’s Cooped clearly decided not to conform to any particular spoof and attempted to redefine the very genre of spoof gothic romance itself. This was pulled off with sheer lunacy and originality, bringing traditional British comedy tropes to new levels with inspiration from everything including Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, with striking influence from The Rocky Horror Show.
One particularly remarkable aspect of the performance was how easily the characters made your acquaintance; writer and performer Toby Parks introduced each character before the show begun allowing each member of the quartet to demonstrate their character briefly to the audience. By doing this, the inanity within each character makes complete sense once the calamity beings.
The collection of drastic physical comedy, highly disturbed and hilarious characters compete with bizarre dream sequences, fart gags and slapstick humour to create something that somehow comes across as a sophisticated and calculated affair. Every gesture and joke was timed to perfection, with comedic wit lashed upon continuous gags that resulted in constant laugh-out-loud humour. And that was all before the naked dance sequence.
This show was a joy to watch, with a little gothic romantic murder mystery thrown together for a fantastic camaraderie of different types of humour to create something that would be difficult to replicate. The characters put their skills to excellent use, stretching them as far as they could go and all details were brilliantly crafted, resulting in a performance which left the audience stunned by laughter.
Spymonkey’s Cooped took place from on Monday 18-Sunday 23 March at:
Leicester Square Theatre
6 Leicester Place
Photo: Sean Dennie