Cops, Southwark Playhouse - ★★★★ - Until February 1, 2020

Photographer: Robert Day. 

With the American police drama being the bread and butter of most television programming, we were a little skeptical about whether there could be an original play on the subject. Cops is an interesting response to that skepticism. With echoes of edgy, male workplace dramas like Glengarry Glen Ross, this work is a step-up from the frequently rather shallow pap offered on television. The establishment of the four main characters in Act I seemed a bit slow but it becomes increasingly engrossing. Whilst we anticipated more character development in Act I, we adapted our expectations to the pace of the piece. This led us to anticipate a deliberately drawn-out understanding and a gradual immersion into the interpersonal conflicts of the principals. However, Act II was a quick rush into character revelation and an emphasis on plot twists that was totally unexpected. As a result, Cops now seemed like a rather uneven work in progress. Still, it is worth more than a look-in just for the quality of the performances. Roger Alborough is spectacular as the been-there, done-that old-school cop. Daniel Francis is brilliant as the token black policeman in 1950's Chicago who goes along with the racist jokes but maintains his integrity. James Sobol Kelly does a great job as the religious and almost saintly leader of the pack – a very interesting character not developed until Act II. For us, however, Jack Flammiger's performance as the sneering, youthful smart aleck was totally riveting. Even when he was just reacting he had our attention. The swagger and smirk were identifiable. The characters here are rich and the actors make the most of them though the script seems to need some work. In the final analysis, if you want to see a masterclass in acting and to catch the flavour of a time and place in America, see Cops. This is not your run-of-the-mill television police drama!

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until February 1, 2020
Mon - Sat: 8 pm, Tue & Sat: 3:30 pm
Southwark Playhouse
Nearest tube: Elephant and Castle

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