REVIEW: THE PRETEND MEN: POLICE COPS (Pleasance Dome) ★★★★★
Word of mouth is a wonderful thing within the world of theatre and this show was recommended to me by countless friends before I had even arrived in Edinburgh. A quick research into the show and the company revealed them to be winners of numerous awards, including Stage Award for Acting Excellence 2015, as well as completing two sell-out runs at London’s Soho Theatre; I certainly felt I was in safe hands. Police Cops is written by Tom Roe, Nathan Parkinson and Zachary Hunt, and follows the story of a young boy who promises his brother he’ll grow up to become the best “police cop” ever; battling baddies and a variety of other hilarious characters to fulfil his promise. It’s a mad-cap, ’80s-inspired feast of hilarity and, as the ‘Top Gun’-esque genre demands… six-packs and homoeroticism to the max!
The energy in this show soars throughout, and showcases the three actors’ skills as performers with a sublime and highly original take on the classic cop drama. The actors were a well-oiled – and very sweaty – ensemble machine and every moment was choreographed to perfection. The company are incredible physical performers, and knew the space, props and each other like the back of their hand, earning much laughter from the precision within their movements.
Multi-rolling provided much of the comedy, with cardboard boxes on stage supplying the necessary props to create a wealth of characters throughout the story. Each actor had a fantastic array of accents and characterisations to make each scene unique. Transitions were slick and comedically successful, sewn together with movement, music and smoke machines. This show is a fine example of brilliantly Brechtian, highly-inventive, mad-cap comedy: the use of live and recorded music, choreographed sequences, and excellent lighting really gave the production an ingenious world in which to entertain the audience, who were able to laugh along hysterically with both the characters and the actors playing them. Some of the mess-ups and improvisations seemed a little scripted, and the costumes questionable, but the audience seemed to find this even funnier within the genre of the piece, and made the actors on stage even more endearing.
Police Cops certainly lives up to its critical acclaim. The Pretend Men are undoubtedly highly talented writers and performers, and I feel this show provides the model example of the excitement and energy that new writing can stamp upon Fringe Theatre (… and possibly the world?!). The standing ovation was well deserved – this is certainly a Fringe must see, several times if you can!
Review by Lisa MacGregor
POLICE COPS plays at the Pleasance Dome 25-28 August 2016