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Theatre Review: Police Cops at Nottingham Playhouse

27 October 16 words: Ian Douglas

It's true what they say. Cops and comedy do mix.

“Be the best police cop ever.” These dying words from a brother slash father, change young Jimmy Johnson’s life forever. So begins a career in law enforcement that will take him from the police academy, to the mean city streets and onto the Mexico of the drug cartels.

But don’t worry about the plot. This isn’t a play concerned with three-act structure. This is an hour of madcap comedy, lampooning every trope in the crime-fighting genre. Think Naked Gun, minus Frank Drebin, re-jigged for alternative theatre. Naïve rookies, jaded ex-cops, drug barons, they’re all here. There’s the bromance between the new boy and the retired detective, the obligatory surprise villain, the redemption and the big finale. It could be a send up of Starsky and Hutch or possibly The Departed, or any other police thriller that ever came out of Hollywood.   

Three young actors hurl themselves around the stage in a frenzy of gags. Changing costumes in front of the audience, they switch roles faster than the blink of a bullet.

They might not be professional dancers, but the synchronised choreography is stunning. The men leap, twist and pirouette in mock fistfights, shootouts and explosions. The humour is knockabout, with an almost pythonesque word play. “It’s not how good you become, it’s how good you’re going to became.” The props budget must have been minimal but flags, costumes and toys get put to good use.

Police Cops is the current production from a comedy collective called The Pretend Men. Apparently it went down well at the Edinburgh Fringe and won a few awards. The likeable trio of actors, Nathan Parkinson, Zachary Hunt and Tom Turner, all work incredibly hard. A few pints of sweat evaporate before our eyes. All three have the promise of bigger things to come. They certainly won over the Neville Theatre’s audience, as evidenced by the non-stop laughter. If you like humour that’s riotous, wacky and yet innovative, see this show.                      

And the three stars take their shirts off a lot. What more could you ask for?

The Nottingham Playhouse presented Police Cops on Thursday 27 October 27 2016. For tickets call the Playhouse Box office on 0115 9419419 or book online

Ian Douglas

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