’80s music, cops ‘n’ robbers, social satire, and a man who won’t stop clapping. Police Cops: The Musical, the newest offering from the award-winning comedy troupe Police Cops, has all the ingredients for success. Whilst sound issues and some liberal borrowing from previous outings may stop the show from being perfect, the talent of its ensemble and sheer joke overload make this a fantastic night out.
Set in the 80s, a time before subtlety, the show follows rookie cop Jimmy Johnson on his quest to avenge his sister’s death, stop an infamous crime lord, and ‘become the best damn Police Cop ever’. This is accompanied by a glut of musical numbers. While excellently performed by Joe Da Costa and Bettine Solf and ably carried by the cast, the songs add surprisingly little to the overall comedy and are often inaudible (even from the front row), due to some sound issues. This is not to say they aren’t funny—the song about being an ‘American’t’ and ‘Snow in Mexico’ are genuine highlights—but they add nothing that the Cops didn’t already have. And what they do have is jokes. Lots and lots of jokes.
In an age when comedy-drama is king, the Cops prioritise gags above all else—be it satirical references to the events of 2020, dismantling the hard-nosed chief joke, or just stripping down to their pants. The humour ranges across all genres, and every member of the ensemble totally commits to their role, each performing at least four separate parts within the high-octane, fast-moving plot. They never slow down and neither does the pace of the comedy, which ricochets past at a mile a minute.
Although there are a few jokes that fall flat, and a few liberally taken from Police Cops’ previous shows (though if you’ve never seen them before, you won’t notice), it’s genuinely impressive how many do land, and land well. This might be the most consistently funny night out in London. It may also be the best night out with the best cast. There is not a weak link amongst them, and the newcomers to the project—Miztli Rose and Andrea Nodroum—are as strong as the original, creative trio. Although they are underutilised in the first act (Rose in particular), all doubts are removed in the second half, which pushes the women to the foreground and lets them be as funny and dynamic as their male co-stars.
This newly enlarged company is incredibly impressive. Drawing on the established strengths of the three original performers (Nathan Parkinson, Tom Roe and Zachary Hunt, who are as good, if not better, than they’ve ever been), they integrate the two new cast members flawlessly. Seamlessly inhabiting main characters, as well as random one-joke appearances, their range and performances are faultless.
Police Cops: The Musical builds on the talents of its cast and iconic style, widening its parameters to include more cast members, more songs and more jokes. Whilst its length means that sometimes elements are hit-or-miss or underused—with some of this being down to sound problems and structure—the sheer number of jokes, committed performances, and comedic talent present onstage means that this show is another triumph from the comedy team. I have no doubt that more awards and a sell-out run await.
Words by Issy Flower