Picture this… It’s Manchester, 1999. Tommie is sick of his dead-end job, cold calling people. He decides to quit his job and winds up being trained as a vampire hunter by a vampire-slaying priest, Father Badass. He has to defend the world as the Devil has hatched a plan. On the stroke of the Millennium, a portal will open, and the Devil will take over the earth along with his vampire horde, because he wants to eat sweets for the first time. Sounds bizarre? Welcome to the utterly bonkers world of Police Cops.
Police Cops are a multi award-winning comedy theatre company, based in London. The three members of the company are Zachary Hunt, Nathan Parkinson, and Tom Roe. They are the team behind the Police Cops series of sell-out comedy shows, including Police Cops in Space. Their latest project, Badass Be Thy Name, is still a work in progress, and forms part of the Incoming Festival, visiting London, Bristol, and Manchester’s HOME theatre.
Badass Be Thy Name is a nostalgic blast back to the past, conjuring an authentic 1990s vibe with Adidas tracksuits, tie die t-shirts, bucket hats, and “getting mortal” at the “phattest rave of all time“. The music is an electric selection of fantastic 90s dance classics. Slaying vampires to the soundtrack of Darude’s Sandstorm is as euphoric as the comedy itself.
A hilarious script, loaded with puns and clever wordplay, shows the comic talent of the trio. There are repeated homages to popular culture, ranging from Star Wars and Oliver Twist. The character of Old Hank fills the Obi-Wan-Kenobi mentor stereotype, wearing brown Jedi-like robes, but displaying a distinct lack of wit. Amusing one-liners are delivered at a relentless pace, leaving the audience crying with laughter. My cheeks hurt from laughing so much.
The best jokes, however, come from Police Cops’ trademark style of riotous physical comedy, as the trio play a multitude of different characters. With a minimalist set, a vast array of props and costumes are brilliantly used to convey humour. A silver glove becomes a sword, which makes for incredibly entertaining sequences of sword fighting. A breakout from prison, in hell, is ingeniously staged using action figures, who slide to freedom on a zip-wire. This is theatre at its most inventive and resourceful, creating fantastic funny comedy.
Badass Be Thy Name also has its fair share of wickedly amusing musical numbers, my favourite being the Devil’s song about his fondness for sweets. “I love sweets, I love candy. Liquorice makes me dandy!”. The Devil is already a hysterical character, but his songs take this to a whole new level. With high-kicking cancan dance moves, and full Broadway glitz and glamour, this is the campest, most entertaining Lucifer you are likely to see on stage!
As a work in progress, it is far from perfect. There are a great deal of corpsing, forgotten cues, and ad-libbing. Personally, I believe that the mistakes enhanced the comedy further, making it feel spontaneously off the cuff.
If Police Cops‘ plays were a Netflix series, I would binge on them all day! They are bizarrely brilliant and wickedly funny. Badass Be Thy Name is an absolute blast! I am eagerly anticipating their return to Manchester.
“Forgive me, father, for I have been Badass”
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Badass Be Thy Name will be on at the Edinburgh Festival from 31st July – 25th August.