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Theatre Review: Edinburgh Fringe 2022 – Police Cops: The Musical

Studio One, Assembly George Square Studios, Edinburgh

At the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I was lucky enough to catch the London-based physical comedy trio of Zachary Hunt, Nathan Parkinson and Tom Roe, on their completely sold-out run of ‘Police Cops in Space’. I was utterly bowled over. The acting, physical performances and comic timing were peerless, and the way they collectively breathed life into minimalist sets – using ingenious costumes and props – while telling a story filled with humour, invention and nostalgia, was literally jaw-dropping. With the exception of something like ‘Bruce’ (by The Last Great Hunt), which I saw the same year – I’ve hardly seen anything like it.

In 2019, the group returned to Scotland’s most famous festival with another smash hit ‘Badass Be Thy Name’. At the time, they were still riding high on the success of their earlier shows, the critically acclaimed ‘Police Cops’ and the aforementioned sell-out ‘Police Cops in Space’ – but a lot’s changed since 2019. We’ve had a pandemic, we’ve had social and political upheaval, and we’ve had catastrophically extreme weather events, but in 2022, there’s really only one burning question I’ve been asking myself… “Is the world ready for ‘Police Cops: The Musical’?” SPOILER ALERT: Yes. It. Is.

As the name suggests ‘Police Cops: The Musical’ gleefully lampoons the most obvious tropes and themes of classic musicals and these characters live in a world where they’ll spontaneously break into song and dance as they go about their daily business. There’s tragedy, there’s heartbreak, and there’s the pursuit of one’s dreams while overcoming adversity. But this is musicals, Police Cops style, and ‘Police Cops: The Musical’ is an ambitious, blockbuster cocktail, prepared by master mixologists with a healthy shot of 80s cop flick excess and a dash of film noir intrigue, topped off with a devilish twist of absurdist comedy. Out-of-place drinks mixing analogies aside, it’s a work of genius that moves along at breakneck speed while teaching you to “listen to your balls!”.

To achieve their ambitions, the trio has had to expand, and this time around they’re joined by Miztli Rose and Gabriella Leon (who I’ve since found out is deaf, which is astounding) to complete the ensemble. It’s a credit to their individual talent because it’s a seamless transition, one that allows for a much broader (and wilder) roster of characters such as “Young Old Gonzalez”, “cop in a bin” and “guy in a morph suit”… The performers are all clearly in their element too, throwing in a little improv here and there, working mistakes and miscues into the story and generally just filling the packed room with infectious laugh-out-loud energy.

This being a musical and all, the music and songs need to be on point and Ian Coulter and Bobby Goulder’s original soundtrack doesn’t disappoint, pairing some of the best and worst of 80s rock and metal with Disney sugar, Latin American rhythms and Mariachi vibes. The songs are genuinely hilarious, the dance routines are choreographed to perfection and there’s a meticulously cinematic direction to everything happening on stage.

‘Police Cops: The Musical’ is a clever merging of pop culture, action thrillers, detective stories and musical theatre, perfect for lovers of ‘Lethal Weapon’ and ‘Grease’ alike. Imagine a stage version of ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ or ‘Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ and you’re getting close. Even if you normally hate musicals, the quick-fire jokes, wacky characters and creative use of props will leave you amazed – personally, I’ve never laughed so hard at a guy holding a table… If this review has left you asking “should I go see ‘Police Cops: The Musical’ right now?”… Try listening to your balls!

‘Police Cops: The Musical’ is at the Edinburgh Fringe throughout August. https://www.policecops.co.uk/police-cops–the-musical

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