Police Cops: The Musical - Southwark Playhouse
Pure 80s action-flick nostalgia
Screeching down from Edinburgh with its sirens blaring is the soon to be cult classic Police Cops. Imagine the sweetest and silliest combination of satirical and farce-ridden action films of the 1980s, smushed together with musical goodness from Eugenius co-creator Ben Adams. This outstanding show, packed with multi-rolling hilarity never drops its aim with shot after shot hitting its intended target - musical comedy does not get much better than this.
Existing somewhere between a musical version of Police Academy and The Naked Gun, Zachary Hunt, Nathan Parkinson and Tom Roe’s production draws upon the goofiest, fourth-wall-breaking hijinks in crafting a narrative worthy of a Leslie Nielsen cameo. We see rookie Jimmy Johnson join the Police Cops to avenge the death of his sister - a death hysterically foreshadowed by the repeated lyrics ‘if I unexpectedly died tonight.’ Partnered with a rugged, old-school ex-cop the pair set about tracking down a notorious drug kingpin, uncovering a trail of corruption, racism and double denim along the way.
Existing in the parody/satire playground, this musical has an incredible soundtrack with the audience clapping along, howling at the genius lyrics and ridiculous rhymes. ‘Am I An American’t’ was a personal favourite, the daftness a beauty to behold. Adams’s live soundtrack, of course, inspired by the tunes of the 80s, features exciting rock-pop, tender ballads and infectious dance numbers with exquisite (and very, very silly) choreography from Matt Cole. The cast sound sensational when performing the numbers, slipping serenely through characters, accents and costumes, creating musical earworms that are still wiggling around hours after the show has finished. Expert scenic, lighting and costume design from Andrew Exeter and Hannah Stillman adds the shiniest of polishes to this playful and dazzling show.
The cast thrive in the raucous nature of the show, their outward enthusiasm the beating heart of this production. Zachary Hunt as Jimmy offers a seriously impressive leading performance, his timid timbre evolving into a clean-cut hero willing to save the day. The fight direction and movement allow him to become a suave badass who is always willing to be the butt of the joke. The entire team revel in the huge variety of characters on their call sheets, flexing an impressive range but never once sacrificing their mesmerising comedic timing. The link-up between script, direction and performance crafts a relentless laugh-a-minute momentum that refuses to falter, comparable to the recent West End triumph of Operation Mincemeat - maybe a similar road lies ahead for this magnificent show.
Dripping with more cheese than a greasy double cheeseburger, Police Cops is a symphony of silliness, poking fun at our esteemed American cousins but highlighting serious undertones that are not unique to the 1980s. I defy anyone not to love this show, so see it before it sells out.
Running till 14th October - Tickets
Photography - Pamela Raith