I know it’s been said before, by many critics and theatregoers who have seen the show in the last year, but I’ll say it again just for the record: Police Cops is one of the funniest things you’re ever likely to see. I mean, it’s really, really funny.
Imagine one of the best spoof you’ve ever seen. Imagine Trey Parker and Matt Stone sat at a typewriter with an infinite amount of time and an infinite amount of 70s cop show DVDs. Imagine a coked-up, sexed-up staging of all the Police Academy movies in one long drug-fuelled hour. This is pretty obviously better than all of those things.
A perfect homage to American cop shows and crime dramas from the 70s and 80s, Police Cops is filled to the brim with ridiculous clichés, action-packed one-liners, montages, Mexican drug lords and electric guitar solos. Not only does it reference, ridicule and celebrate the might of the cop-show genre, it also pulls apart and plays with the whole make-believe of theatre.
Zachary Hunt is Jimmy, a loveable, naïve all-American hero who makes a promise to his dying brother; a promise that he’ll grow up to become the best damn police cop ever. And so he does. But first he needs the help of hardened, jaded ex-police cop Harrison (an equally great performance from Tom Turner.) The two of them team up in order to stop an evil Mexican kingpin. The third member of this dynamic trio is Nathan Parkinson, a multi-roling, multi-hat-wielding phenomenon who flits between the parts of the aforementioned kingpin, Jimmy’s dead brother and the typical hard-ass boss, Officer Malloy (amongst others). These three make up an impressive ensemble, with a knack for hilarity and enough energy between them to power a small, seaside town.
The play moves with phenomenal pace and a genuinely captivating story, with many twists and diversions that keep the audience on their toes. Not every joke lands, but that doesn’t really matter; the level of the humour varies from broad, pun-heavy and accessible references, to some really strange and surreal gags (such as Parkinson disguised an evil Mexican cat.) The atmosphere in the room is one of palpable hilarity; the kind of show that you laugh at until you feel giddy and your heart begins to hurt.