Cooped by Spymonkey at The Pavilion Theatre in Worthing - this is what our critic thought

Spymonkey in Cooped at The Pavilion Theatre, Worthing
Spymonkey in Cooped at The Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

Twenty years ago in Brighton, Spymonkey performed their first show - a show that set them on the path to becoming one of the UK's leading physical comedy troupes.

And to mark their 20th anniversary, the quartet returned to the area for a revival of the production as part of the Brighton Festival.

Spymonkey in Cooped at The Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

Spymonkey in Cooped at The Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

As anyone who has seen the posters plastered around Worthing would know, Cooped owes a debt of gratitude to Alfred Hitchcock: the Gothic house and ghostly hauntings in Rebecca, the stabby antagonist from Psycho and The Birds - if only for the Tippi Hedren stylings of the ditzy ingenue and the presence of a few feathered friends... well, remote-controlled pheasants.

But there's also a dash of the telenovela, biblical epic and even a touch of fever-induced nightmare for good measure.

The surreal nature of this show begins the moment that Laura du Lay - played by a catalogue model with a brain cell deficit - sets foot inside Featherstone Hall in Northumberlandshirehampton to work for the reclusive but dashing Forbes Murdston, and his creepy butler Klaus proceeds to poke his tongue in her mouth like a pneumatic drill.

As the mystery of Laura's past is slowly revealed, the show is punctuated by a series of asides, each weirder than the last - the Virgin Mary being hoisted on ropes, Mother Teresa versus the Good Samaritan, and a eye-popping, full-frontal naked dance a la Adam and Eve to signal the interval.

From almost start to finish, I was laughing out loud - the pacing was just right and there was not a weak link in the group.

That being said, my favourite performance came from Petra Massey as the fainting-prone heroine. She must have abs of steel to remain stiff as a board while being hoisted around by her fellow actors.

A close second was Aitor Basauri as a pathetic Spanish soap star who butchered more of his own characters in the show than the murderer himself. His pathetic glances at the audience and angry outbursts as he is humiliated in each scene were hilarious.

The show is on until Sunday - and for theatre fans, this is a must-see.