How long were you treading the boards before you decided to start Spymonkey?

I trained at Hull University and then at Fool Time in Bristol before making my living in theatre, and before that I was a fairly avid actor at school. I guess between leaving university and starting Spymonkey in my early 30s was around 10 years.

 

How did Spymonkey begin?

I met Aitor Basauri in a clown workshop in Spain in 1991. Petra Massey came to an audition in London for a Swiss site-specific company called Karl's Kühne Gassenschau who I was working with as musical director and actor. They both ended up working for that company, and we hit it off and wanted to make something together, which turned into Stiff, our first show, which opened in 1998.

 

What's your approach to writing a new production like Oedipussy?

We worked together with Emma Rice the director and Carl Grose, our collaborative writer, nailing exactly what the arc of the story was, what we were fascinated by in it. We did a fair few improvisations and gathered lyrics and had some ideas about our monologues and what scenes we'd like to do with the Oedipus story.

 

What do you want the audience to take away with them?

We want the audience to laugh their socks off and then burst into tears at the beauty of what they have just witnessed, and a couple of hours later to reflect on the stunning poetry of laughter, how it transcends the everyday and has the transformative, transcendental, almost numinous power to heal the woes of the world, and then to have a laugh again.

 

What has been the highlight of your time with Spymonkey?

The first time we played the Theatre Royal Brighton in the festival in 2006 was a big moment for me personally, and I'm looking forward to being there this year because it's the end of a pretty hefty tour and it's where I live so my family and lots of friends will be there.

 

And was the bad review that you talk about in Oedipussy the low point?

That review does actually exist, but it definitely wasn't the lowest point though...

The lowest point for the company was early 2008 when we suddenly realised that, despite having a management company that was supposed to be selling our work, we actually didn't have any gigs lined up. So we took the selling of our work back into our own hands, and stopped relying on other people to do it for us, and since then we've built and built.

 

What’s the next step for Spymonkey?

We’ve got quite a few in the pipeline. A stage adaptation of Jamie Rix’s Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, a burlesque show in Paris called Mugler's Follies, a co-production with Lyric Hammersmith and Peepolykus called Jekyll & Hyde(ish) and a spookshow (a mix of scary films and live action) with Professor Vanessa, for the Winter Gardens in Blackpool next February.

 

Oedipussy by Spymonkey can be seen at Theatre Royal Brighton from 14 – 16 May at 7.45pm