We sat down with Toby Park and Aitor Basauri, co-creators and directors of our new show Hairy coming Summer 2023. Spymonkey is the UK’s longest running comedy theatre company, Hairy will be their first show made especially for children!
How did the idea for Hairy come about?
Aitor my fellow director had an idea to do a clown show involving hair a few years ago, and when Polka got in touch a while ago to ask if we’d be interested in working together it felt like that was a funny and very silly idea. We have had the most fun possible in rehearsals and on stage putting on wigs, sticking on beards and moustaches (and some of us have grown quite magnificent ones too) – it is a brilliant way of transforming yourself instantly into someone very different to yourself, and that always appeals to us as comedy performers. It makes us laugh, so hopefully it makes an audience laugh, whatever age they are.
For anyone unfamiliar with Spymonkey, could you share a bit about yourselves?
We started around 25 years ago, making funny theatre. We’ve been very lucky to have performed to audiences around the world, from Las Vegas to Sydney. In those years we have mainly been a core of four performers, with more brilliant people like our designer Lucy (Bradridge) supporting us from behind the stage. We like making elaborately silly work, being ambitious in our idiocy. Recently we directed our first full-scale opera, which was the most elaborately silly thing imaginable.
What can audiences expect from the show?
Screams (of laughter, of surprise). Slippery shampoo. Falling over. Trying to stand up again. Falling over some more. And some great songs too.
Why should people come and see it?
We’ve been making grown ups laugh for 25 years. We think that young people should get to enjoy brilliant comedy too – after all they can usually teach us a thing or too about having a laugh. We are aiming to make the funniest show they have ever seen. Plus some tips for how to scare headlice.
The show focuses on themes of identity. While developing Hairy, what has struck you most about the significance of hair in relation to identity?
Hair is one of those things that when you start thinking about it is everywhere. We were excited about a subject which above all others defines so many things about our identities – masculine and feminine, different racial identities and ethnicities, different religious traditions and taboos, culture, history, fashion, what is beautiful, what is undesirable. It expresses very personal things to the outside world. We can change it or transform it according to how we want the world to see us. We can conceal it. We can let it grow. It is political. It is revolutionary. It is traditional. What other attribute do human’s have that is as transformative as that?
Give us your best hair puns!
(These are both for Aitor who has hair everywhere except on the top of his head)
Hair today, gone tomorrow
Baldilocks and the Three Hairs (from our friends Bella and Jack!)
Can you tell us some of your favourite fun facts about hair?
The best way of cleaning up massive oil slicks is with humungous mats made of hair, collected from hairdressing salons around the world. They trail them out of boats. Yuck. But also, Yay.
Lastly, if you could be any hair on the body, which would you be?
I think eyelashes are the best. They are so elegant and refined. Did you know they are the only hairs on our bodies that behave like cats’ whiskers? – if an insect or debris touch an eyelash it causes the eyelid close in an instant reflex, to protect the eyeball from damage.
Hairy runs between Saturday 1 July to Sunday 20 August. Recommended for ages 6-12, tickets from £10*. Book your tickets here.
A Spymonkey, Polka Theatre and Worthing Theatre & Museum co-production.