In Cops, written by ex American serviceman Tony Tortora, four policemen of different ages, classes and races in 1957 Chicago must work together to thwart the Mob. British director and producer Andy Jordan explains what drew him to the piece, which starts performances at London’s Southwark Playhouse on 15 January 2020…
I was immediately attracted by how the play is character and relationship-driven, by its funny, razor-sharp dialogue, by the authentic evocation of the world of Chicago policing in 1957, and by its strong dramatic situation, a pressure cooker police precinct office in which four cops, different ages, classes and races, struggle to work as a team whilst riven by personal demons, violent antagonisms and mutual duplicity and suspicion.
I was moved by the way each of the characters is living a lie, which has to be confronted, and in the doing of it, private pain and personal vulnerability are movingly revealed.
Running alongside this, the play offers a touching message about love and fraternity, something the writing does with raw emotional power and soulful poignancy.
I like how the play is classically constructed in the way it builds its themes and explorations into the characters’ individual stories and relationships, and through the dialogue and dramatic conflict.
It is in this way that we come to understand the subjects the play deals with, for instance, masculinity, racism, corruption, social injustice and inter-generational and class conflict, which makes the play contemporary and relevant.
I also very much warmed to the vivid blend of comedy and drama, and to the realism of the play’s setting, a rapidly changing late 1950s American world where police brutality and corruption, the Civil Rights movement, inner-city racial tensions, Mob violence, mass consumerism, and the arrival of Elvis and rock ‘n’ roll all directly affect the characters.
Cops is not only a layered, colourful and entertaining new play but is also an unusual one in the way its storytelling works, putting the focus firmly on its characters and their inter-personal struggles rather than external factors or ‘issues’, something I found especially interesting from the director’s perspective.
COPS runs from 15 January to 1 February 2020 at Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD with Monday to Saturday evening performances at 8pm, Tuesday and Saturday matinees at 3.30pm. Tickets are priced £14-22. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!