Police Cops – Badass Be Thy Name | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Soho Theatre, London
review star review star review star review half star review blank star

Police Cops – Badass Be Thy Name

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Soho Theatre, London

It’s the height of the Madchester scene: tunes are banging, pills are popping and the venue is filled with wide-eyed, hyperactive youngsters burning their surplus energy in a blur of movement and life.

This is the spirit that Police Cops evoke in this boisterous physical comedy, a spirited melange of pop-culture parodies, corny acting and cheapo effects, delivered in a whirl of celebratory chaos.

Previously known for spoof cop procedurals – hence the troupe’s name – the trio have this time gone for an epic vampire-slaying horror yarn on budget. Of course, they take multiple roles, even the humble black wooden chair that’s their main bit of scenery has to represent a dozen different settings, and they cheerily ignore the fourth wall to acknowledge the pathetic deceit.

Story-wise, Tom Roe is, mostly, the hero: stuck in a dead-end office job, living for the weekend and brow-beaten by his stepfather since his real dad walked out on him as a child, merrily punching his photograph as he did. But then he finds a higher purpose, joining with a charismatic, mysterious and badass-cool priest to battle the armies of darkness.

The trio – also including Nathan Parkinson and Zachary Hunt  – are capable of inventive sight gags to convey the scope of their vision on pocket-money prices. Yet they also keep things loose, allowing for improvisations, mistakes (whether actual or planned) and corpsing, only occasionally tipping into the self-indulgent. 

They revel in the fact that the hour is uneven, though they only occasionally achieve Play-That-Goes-Wrong heights of finely choreographed chaos. And their enthusiasm and manic pace aren’t always quite enough to disguise the moments when there’s more boyish enthusiasm than wit. 

Some scenes really shine, though, such as their workaround for a fencing duel. Evoking a year eight drama group for some clunky plot exposition was a particular delight, even if the threesome probably haven’t quite progressed quite as far past the loud, declamatory, clunky speech-making as they might hope. The difference now is they embrace that style, tongue in cheek, as the likes of their mock Broadway musical numbers attest.

It’s not the only trope mined for daft laughs, and the performers all appear to be having a whale of a time, displaying a Nobel-winning chemistry.

With high-octane performances, bum gags and pop culture references aplenty, there is a clear sense this is aimed at a studenty audience of a similar age to them. Certainly those in the Soho Theatre’s main space not old enough to notice the anachronisms (the hedonistic Hacienda was long gone by 1999, when the action is set) lap it up, with delighted whoops throughout.

It’s not nuanced or clever – deliberately so – and not always as original as what the creators achieve in their best moments. Yet for all this, they make it a blast. Sound.

Police Cops – Badass Be Thy Name  is on at the Soho Theatre until Saturday.

Review date: 28 Jan 2020
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Soho Theatre

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.