The minds behind Police Cops have been steadily establishing themselves as Fringe favourites since their first Team America-style stage show sold out in 2017. This year, the central trio of Zachary Hunt, Nathan Parkinson and Tom Roe return with an expanded ensemble (Melinda Orengo, Natassia Bustamante and, for the first few nights due to cast illness, understudy Ben Lancaster) and a reworking of their first show – this time, with songs!
Expanded from the original to a luxurious 90-minute runtime, the gang’s puerile and incredibly sharp wit hasn’t just survived the shift into musical theatre, it’s thrived off it. The casual brutality of shooting a corpse during a dance number and some truly inspired song choices – ‘If I should Unexpectedly Die Tonight’ is a particular highlight – serve as hilarious and pitch-perfect parodies of the eighties action movie.
From meticulously-executed physical comedy to amusingly stupid wordplay (the last three letters of “American” put a real shift in), Police Cops never stops finding ingenious ways to send up its own source material. Even with a few early-show goofs grinding the action to a halt a couple of times, the crew are confident enough to rescue the show with a spot of improv (or, occasionally, throwing cigarettes into the audience).
Considering this is the group’s first musical, the quality of these musical numbers and associated choreography is a little short of astounding. In fact, it’s the sort of show which, by now, feels a little too big for the Fringe – an obviously sizeable set budget (and the show’s upcoming residency at London’s Southwark Playhouse in September) hint at a crew which is just about to outgrow the Festival which made their name.
That doesn’t stop Police Cops: The Musical from being one of the slickest and funniest shows on the Fringe in 2023. Catch them now, before they take over the world.
Police Cops: The Musical is playing at the Assembly George Square Studios until 28 August.