Police Cops in Space is the sequel to the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe smash-hit Police Cops – and as you might expect, there are rather a lot of crossovers between the two. A bawdy slapstick parody of 70s cop shows bunged together with a generous lashing of sci-fi cliché’s, Police Cops In Space is all that you might expect it to be. A patchwork of satire and silliness, the piece neither surprises nor underwhelms – a good night out, but hardly something to write home about.
Sammy Jones says a tearful goodbye to his dying Best Police Cop Ever father, who makes Sammy promise to one day become the Best Police Cop In Space. Fast forward around 20 years and Sammy’s bumming around, hitting the drink and generally attempting to avoid most responsibilities in life. However, when the robot who killed his father picks off the last police cops one by one, Sammy has to team up with pilot Ranger to stop the robot and live up to the Best Police Cop In Space tag. This is obviously skipping a wide range of detours and other episodes – a dance competition with a mop features quite heavily, as do a large amount of dramatic gazes into the distance.
A bizarre frame narrative promises much, but seems underused – the war between humans and aliens is touched upon, but never developed to have an impact in the plot. Lights are used in a myriad of imaginative ways, and the troupe’s accents are to die for, but there’s an issue. While The Pretend Men enact the piece very well, it doesn’t seem as new and exciting as it once might have. Silly, yes, great entertainment, yes, but ultimately parodying certain cliched art forms in a lo-tech way is quite a saturated market. The difference between companies like this and other aficionados of the genre (Kill the Beast springs to mind) is that while others use the parody to make a point of their own, Police Cops are happy not to have any ulterior motives. While this doesn’t reduce the entertainment value of what they’re doing, it does mean they tend to merge into the huge number of small-cast, comedically multi-rolling shows around the various Fringes. Funny, yes, but the company might have to head back into their box of tricks to spice up the next offering.