REVIEW: Hairy, Spymonkey (Polka Theatre)

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a follicle, preparing for your calling as a fully grown hair? Probably not, because it’s the sort of nonsensical notion that only springs from the heads of especially silly sorts. Enter Spymonkey; an established comedy troupe who have turned their attention to children’s theatre for the first time this summer. Co-produced by Polka Theatre and Worthing Theatres & Museum, Hairy is a surreal study of the most versatile of body parts. Mummy and Quaver bobbed along to Polka this weekend to catch the production. After taking some time to mullet over, here are our highlights. (If you’re already bristling at the bad hair puns and hoping we cut it out, we moustache you to bear with us as we plan on weaving them into the entire review – Hopefully they’ll grow on you.)

Hairny (Matthew Faucher) has arrived for his first day of training, and is pinning his hopes on becoming a head hair, but is he cut out for it or will he be brushed aside? With the guidance of fellow follicles Hairmione (Katie Grace), Harriet (Jasmine Chiu) and Al (John-Luke Roberts) Hainry must endure a series of challenges to prove that he has what it takes to reach the lofty heights of the scalp.

Although there are some token educational elements, Hairy is largely an hour of side-splitting silliness, with comedy that will appeal to all ages. It’s apparent from the first glimpse of the ridiculous lycra costumes (designed by Lucy Bradridge) that this is going to be a bit bonkers, and things become downright daft at a rate of knots. There is very much a Monty Python vibe going on, particularly from John-Luke Roberts who demonstrates razor sharp wit in his interactions with the audience. Katie Grace also offers some hairlarious physical comedy as well as showing off impressive singing skills.

The cast of Hairy. Photo credit: Steve Gregson

It’s clear that Spymonkey are masters of their craft who have got their hairy hands on the recipe book for children’s theatre and are not afraid to braid it all together to create something spectacularly surreal. How often does Marie Antoinette get to share a stage with a tap dancing Pippi Longstocking? And when else will head lice and dandruff get their time to shine?

Running at a trim 60 minutes, Hairy is a nicely-paced, high energy production offering exactly the sort of feel good fun that you want in the summer holidays. And with fringe style theatre pricing, you won’t be rinsed by the box office either. So chop chop – book yourself into Polka Theatre for a trip to the hairdresser like no other.

Hairy plays at Polka Theatre from 1 July to 20 August 2023 ahead of a run at Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre from 24 to 28 August. We received complimentary press tickets to the 11am performance on Sunday 30 July.

Image credit: Steve Gregson