Globe Theatre critic Peter Grant catches up with Spymonkey who are looking forward to being 'cooped up' in Liverpool next month.

FANS of surprising comedy drama are invited to a 'pheasant' time when Spymonkey return to Liverpool's Playhouse next month as part of a very limited UK tour.

The much-loved Brighton-based theatre company are celebrating 20 years of success by re-vamping one of their critically-acclaimed international hits called Cooped.

It's a rip-roaring, physical comedy.

They were last here at Christmas with their bizarre re-boot of A Christmas Carol.

Surprise and Spymonkey go hand-in-paw.

Described as 'Monty Python on acid' the comedic rebels are proud of such comparisons.

They were genuinely surprised by how much the audiences were to their outrageous re working of the Dickens classic and took to their festive production.

Spymonkey love to think and act outside of the box.

Surreal humour meets slapstick with some great sounds thrown in.

Now they are dipping into their formidable back-catalogue to bring back to life their classic 2001 show called Cooped - a 'demented' take on gothic romances created with writer and director Cal McCrystal.

They describe it as Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca meets The Pink Panther with a '60s go-go costume wearing heroine, a German butler, Spanish soap star and English aristocrat.

First performed in 2001, Cooped is their best-loved, longest-running piece of work which has delighted audiences from the Sydney Opera House to the 'Just For Laughs' festival in Montreal.

Artistic director Toby Park laughs when I say Cooped has finally come of age.

But what is the 'pheasant' connection?

He tells the Globe: "Ah think of Hitchcock's The Birds ... but think pheasants.

"I won't give too much away for those who haven't seen it, but the title Cooped is a clue," says Toby.

"It is set in a gothic country house and there are plenty of pheasant references and a mechanical flying pheasant.

"We are planning some fantastic new bits which fans of the original will, we think, enjoy and we are buffing up our old bits too.

"People in Liverpool always take us to their hearts.

"We love go backing there and without doubt no matter where we go we all agree Merseyside audiences are the best in the country."

And that's a great compliment from Toby and co who are jetting off to Florida after the UK tour for a stint being 'cooped up' in sunny Tampa.

"We are re-branding the show as Hysteria for the American audiences and can't wait to give them a taste of the delights in store ... the Englishness of Spymonkey."

For now, Liverpool, prepare for a roller coaster of raucous. rebellious fun.

Cooped by Spymonkey is at the Liverpool Playhouse from June 4-8.

Tickets from the box office or 0151 709 4776

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