Police Cops: Badass Be Thy Name (5 stars)

Police Cops: Badass Be Thy Name

Picture: Mark Dawson Photography

Award-winning three-man troupe are silly, slick and side-splittingly funny in this devilishly fabulous Fringe hour

Badass Be Thy Name is the latest instalment of ridiculous theatre comedy by Police Cops, with this one set against the backdrop of Haçienda-era Manchester. Tommy (Tom Roe), a Mancunian who works a boring office job and in constant pursuit of an epic night out, is intrigued by a series of mysterious local disappearances. These are later explained when he witnesses a vampire (confusingly identified with mummy-like bandages) in a murderous act.

But while at The Haçienda, dancing the night away to 90s rave classics, Tommy meets Badass The Vampire Slayer (Nathan Parkinson), a leather jacket-wearing cross between Darth Vader and Morpheus who also possesses the ability to identify the elusive killers. Tommy undergoes vampire-slayer training with Badass and his Yoda-like sidekick Hank (Zachary Hunt) in order to save Manchester from the devil himself (Hunt again, and just as hilarious) who just so happens to be running the whole dastardly operation.

Badass Be Thy Name is written and executed with precision and a child-like imagination while sprinkles of improvisation keep everyone on their toes. The story is nonsensical but ultimately unimportant, no more than a vehicle to drive the three actors through their showcase of inspired skits. These include a Mission Impossible-esque puppet sequence using Ken dolls, several choreographed fight scenes (ingeniously using sock puppets as swords) and the devil's backstory explained in the style of a 'Year Nine drama production'.

Roe, Parkinson and Hunt's star quality shines bright against a bare set, with them relying heavily on slick lighting, frenetic audio and what should be unrealistically swift costume changes. But even when it occasionally does go wrong (at one point a balloon needed popping but a pin was nowhere to be found), the recovery manages to be funnier than the original joke. Finally, a large chunk of the punchlines are fuelled by a creative use of DIY props, with the insides of two trenchcoats becoming canvases to a particularly inspired moment.

The age rating for this performance was changed mid-run from 12+ to 14+, due to a few crude gags, talk of drugs and a lot of crack (the anatomical kind). But even the most shocking moments don't go especially far. Their mixture of absurd, witty and physical comedy is easily among the best of its kind at this or any other year's Fringe. Ultimately, Police Cops are a law unto themselves.

Police Cops: Badass Be Thy Name, Assembly George Square Gardens, until Sunday 29 August, 6.45pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12).

Police Cops: Badass Be Thy Name

  • 5 stars

Police Cops Hot off the back of sell-out runs at Edinburgh Fringe 2019, Soho Theatre London and San Fransisco Comedy Fest; multi-award-winning troupe Police Cops return with their latest comedy blockbuster. A gritty kitchen-sink drama turns into a vampire-slaying horror epic. Complete with a 90s rave soundtrack…