Buddy Cop 2 at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.

Elisse Power, Alex McCubbin and Charlie West. Photo (c) Richard Brown

The Progress Theatre serves a slice of small-town America in the charmingly offbeat Buddy Cop 2 from the Debate Society of Brooklyn (Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen) and delightfully directed by the insightful Dan Clarke.

Set in the 1980s, with a soulful soundscape to match, this downtown gem takes place in a recreation centre where a police station has been relocated temporarily after a recent flood. It is atwinkle with fairy lights and gaudy tinsel as the tiny burg of Shandon have decided to celebrate Xmas in the steamy month of August.

We meet the staunchly law-enforcing officers of the station. Don McMurchie (the imposing and charismatic Alex McCubbin) calls Darlene Novak, the new rookie (played by Elisse Power with great charm and perception) from her racquetball game, which is visible through the plexi-glass partition, to discuss the merits of the Opera vs the Princess pendant chain, while officer Terry Olsen (portrayed superbly and with subtly understated hilarity by Charlie West) continues playing.

Isabel Mayers as Brandi. Photo (c) Richard Brown

Brandi, the governor’s daughter and reluctant clarinettist (beautifully played by Isabel Mayers in the style of Rosie Webster of Coronation Street, complete with giant shimmering Minnie Mouse bow) appears in a picture book tableau to relate the tragic tale of Skylar, the child dying of cancer; she and all the townsfolk are rooting for her and she decides to stage a spectacular skating fundraiser, visible again through the plexi partition.

In startling contrast, the pale and vulnerable Skylar (also touchingly played by the versatile Isabel Mayers) is revealed in a cleverly staged window and speaks chillingly of terrifying dreams; Santa with black teeth and glowing yellow eyes… perhaps all is not as it seems?

The underlying darkness is lifted by wonderfully comedic moments. Particularly fine was the tumbling tinsel as disconsolate officer Don reflects on being excluded from security duties at Skylar’s fundraising event and also his robust vocal performance to his, by turns, startled and sniggering colleagues!

Charlie West and Elisse Power in a melondrama. Photo (c) Richard Brown

We follow the well-meaning trio as they answer the busy telephone and doorbell and accept a stream of ‘seasonal’ gifts from the community. I especially liked the vast green melon encircled by a red ribbon! They laugh a little, flirt a little, play racquetball a little, then suddenly, without warning, the plot takes an unexpected turn. It is a fizzling bombshell that will shock and perturb – don’t miss it!

‘Buddy Cop 2’ opens at the Progress Theatre, The Mount, Reading on Monday 13 November and runs until Saturday 18 November. Tickets can be bought online or by telephone on 0118 384 2169.

  1. The Progress Theatre website and Facebook page
  2. ‘Buddy Cop 2’ at the Progress Theatre
  3. Progress Theatre tickets