Review: Police Cops – the Musical, Southwark Playhouse

One of the funniest things I’ve seen all year, I’m highly recommending Police Cops: the Musical at Southwark Playhouse

“The only thing I’ve learned is this

Recommending a comedy is one of the trickiest things as everyone’s sense of humour is different in so many ways (qv me not laughing at all in One Man, Two Guvnors…). So bear that caveat in mind as I declare that Police Cops: the Musical is probably the funniest show I’ve seen this year. Resonant of the madcap humour of The Naked Gun/Police Squad franchise, not least in how every single opportunity to fit in a ripping joke or sight gag is taken, I am still chuckling away at so many of those details even now.

Written by Zachary Hunt, Nathan Parkinson and Tom Roe, who also co-star along with Natassia Bustamante and Melinda Orengo, we’re deep in the world of 1980s US cop spoofs. The plot – insofar as it actually matters – follows Jimmy Johnson, a young stud motivated to become the best police cop ever (ever, ever, everrrrr…) when his sister gets shot. Will his renegade partner and racist chief get in the way of tracking down Mexican crime lord Hernandez? Will a Mexican orphanage hold many surprising secrets? Will the drummer survive? Will Jimmy keep his shirt on? Who knows!

But you’re not taking anything seriously here. Rather you’re marvelling at the brilliant table gag, the cigarette throwing, the cat, the ‘huhs’ in the opening song, how they do those quick change costumes, the one-man-two-fighters wrestling match, the slow hand-claps and indeed watching the only thing that Jimmy has learned. It’s the type of show that would easily bear re-watching as the jokes are coming so thick and fast, it is way too easy to miss some whilst laughing at the last one. NB if you’re shy, do avoid the front row…

Ben Adams’ score is full of punchy 80s influences, sounding great under Gabriel Chernick’s musical direction and evoking the era perfectly whilst allowing lyrical hilarity to shine through (I’m definitely American’t). Andrew Exeter’s set design is truly inspired in the way it creates this inventive playspace. There’s nothing for it, I’m going to have to book again, and I highly recommend that you do too!

Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Photos: Pamela Raith
Police Cops: the Musical is booking at Southwark Playhouse Borough until 14th October

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