The premise for Police Cops: Police Cops in Space is fairly simple: it’s a low-budget parody of gritty 80s cop dramas… but in space. It does what it says on the tin, really – only this tin is a multi-award winning, sell-out Fringe favourite, with more accolades than Heinz has pickle varieties.
From the get-go, it’s pretty easy to see why The Pretend Men have enjoyed such success with this production. Police Cops in Space has all the charm of a very enthusiastic high school play, with the confidence and polish that comes from many Fringe runs. The low-budget aspect of the show is one of its most endearing attributes, even if it feels a little incongruous in Studio One (one of Assembly’s largest venues) – and the three-man cast leads to lots of haphazard costume changes which are a joy to watch.
The plot is obviously not the focus of the show, which is completely forgiven by the absolute hilarity Police Cops in Space substitutes instead. If you’re familiar with the tropes of both sci-fi and cop dramas, the show will be especially enjoyable, however, there’s enough general ridiculousness that almost everyone can enjoy the story of Sammy Johnson, who aims to avenge his father, ‘the best damn police cop in space’.
What makes this show stand out from other parodies is the improvisational aspect the performers weave throughout the show – it’s a clever way of keeping things fresh for themselves, especially considering they do two shows a day (their new show, Badass Be Thy Name, is on an hour before Police Cops in Space). Although it leads to a few bizarre one-liners, the cast’s own bafflement is comedic in its own right, and adds to the slightly slapdash effect which they have become famous for. It also doesn’t feel too self-indulgent – meta-comedies can often devolve into shouting and not much else, but The Pretend Men know when to ease up a little and let the audience breathe.
Get on your geriatric robot and enjoy the ride – just don’t try to make sense of it!