FESTIVAL REVIEW: Police Cops in Space

The Pretend Men comedy troop are back with the uproarious ‘Police Cops in Space’, a follow up to their hit parody ‘Police Cops’.

Milking 70s detective drama tropes for all they’re worth, the three boundlessly energetic performers take you on a raucous trip around the galaxy in a crowd-pleasing homage to so-bad-it’s-good cop shows.

With the death of his father at the hands of an evil, sexually frustrated, Aussie robot (yes, you read correctly), Sammy Johnson is the last Police Cop left in the universe. With the help of ace pilot Ranger and a gang of unlikely pals, Sammy learns to face his destiny and take up his father’s mantle.

The show opens at full tilt and the relentless pace barely lets up as the charismatic performers deliver an hour of pitch perfect comedy mayhem. Saucy jokes, dextrous physical comedy, synchronised dancing and endless costume changes are packed into one of the this year’s most imaginative and enjoyable comedies at Fringe.

This type of show lives or dies on winning over the audience in the first five minutes and, at the performance I joined at least, one minute was ample; it may have been the acoustics in the compact Blockhouse stage at The Warren, but I can safely say I’ve rarely heard so much laughter from a few hundred people.

The players commanding physicality and imaginative use of props are the shows greatest strengths – transporting you across the galaxy in an instant, conjuring motorbikes out of thin air and warping space time itself. With barely more than some tin foil, a few cardboard boxes and some deft choreography, they manage to construct a hypnotic opening theme sequence to rival any HBO show.

By its nature, the detective show and cop B-movie genre willingly lends itself to this type of parody with clearly defined dramatic structures and off the shelf dialogue. Yet, as with the one-man cop parody show ‘Bane’ – a previous Fringe hit – a clear affection for the source material elevates Police Cops out of the realms of mockery and into pure comedy magic.

It’s difficult to tell at times how much the corpsing is staged and how much of the dialogue is genuinely improvised. Regardless, the character breaking often got some of the night’s biggest laughs. Laughs enough to make me smile just at the thought of next year’s spin on the winning ‘Police Cops’ formula.

POLICE COPS IN SPACE played at The Warren: The Hat, 19-20 May, 7:45pm

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