Good Cop Bad Cop at the Leicester SquareCultureTheatre
“Buddy cop” comedies have enjoyed something of a revival in recent years, through films such as Will Ferrell’s The Other Guys, and Jonah Hill’s reboot of the 21 Jump Street franchise. Setting out to prove there are still fresh laughs to be wrung from a genre that enjoyed its heyday in the 80s, Primley Road Productions brings the familiar setting of the interrogation room to the stage in Good Cop Bad Cop.
The play is a single scene three-hander starring Andrew Fettes as Alan, the haggard old cynic of the force, Adam Alexander as his fresh-faced rookie partner Jonathan, and Luke Stevenson as their mysterious suspect Joe Bloggs. Beginning in promising fashion with a strong opening gag that’s cleverly set up by the set dressing and promotional materials, this is a comedy that thereafter struggles to match that very first laugh in terms of inventiveness or sophistication.
Alan believes that Joe’s capture means he has “Noah” in his sights: the international drug smuggling kingpin that has been eluding him for years. In order to force his man into spilling the beans, he plans to utilise the reliable old interviewing tactic from which the piece takes its name. Much of the japery comes from his decision to perversely assign the role of “bad cop” to his nervous and naïve new colleague. While Alexander does well with the physical pratfalls required in his role, the concept of the innocent ineptly portraying a tough guy is too tired to sustain the comedic core of a 60-minute play. Whether he’s swearing unconvincingly, smoking unconvincingly, or making unconvincing threats, one can’t help but feel that we’ve seen it all before. Gags elsewhere, which have all the originality of the “embarrassing private recording revealed in public”, and all the urbanity of “carbonated beverage shares a nickname with a class-a drug” fail to send the laugh quota high enough to support the nonsensical plot or its highly contrived twist.
The performances here are all decent enough – Stevenson in particular deserves credit for an endearingly spaced-out turn as Joe, which at least serves to confound expectations of how the detainee should behave in this well-worn paradigm. They cast might be better served by the script, however, if it were boiled down considerably to form a much tighter (and much shorter) sketch.
Good Cop Bad Cop is on at Leicester Square Theatre until 15th November 2014, for further information or to book visit here.