Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 2001

***** Madcap antics in a dark country house

Spymonkey's Stiff last year was a hilarious revelation; this year's show fully lives up to that early promise.

The basic idea is that English melodramatic actor-manager Forbes Murdston is staging a modern Gothic romance with a company who insist on making a royal mess of everything. The young heroine simpers brainlessly; the butler is a german so mad he makes Norman Bates look like Norman Lamont; the actor playing the lawyer keeps thinking he is the romantic lead rather than the supporting role.

This Anglo-Germano-Spanish quartet are supremely skilled at playing incompetence, and yet carrying on as if everything were going according to plan. They career around the simple but versatile set, getting in each other's way and each trying to commandeer the story, and do it all in such a way that the laughs simply never let up. The show includes a clockwork pheasant, a jaw-dropping dinosaur costume and a maddeningly catchy Stock-Aitken-Waterman-type pop song, and much, much more. For physical comedy and surreal clowning on the Fringe, you would be hard pressed to do better than Spymonkey.

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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