When thinking about reviewing- what I am offering- as opposed to what someone who is purely there to report- or who is paid per word to review- is something a little different. I see alot of independent shows- much more than mainstage shows as I believe independence is everything. Independence is the key to innovation and is often where the greatest and boldest risks are taken- risks that move theatre forward, as opposed to safely re-inventing the wheel (a wheel with a bigger budget- encrusted in diamonds, goldern and impressive- but still a wheel. A wheel dressed up if you will. Not necessarilly reinvented)… and that is how I feel about alot of the mainstage work.

So I try to get out and about to see new works as much as possible. New works which are dynamic and engaging with contemporary issues right here and now. Works that dare to be surprising.

I have to declare my hand, as I have been advised by James W on several occasions- I should declare my love of certain people/works I have seen- put it into context.

I absolutely loved Leland Kean’s production of “Constance Drinkwater and he final Days of Somerset” which I saw in 2006. I loved that show- I think about it on occasion… and I found it spontaneous and surprising and intelligent. I also have a massive professional crush on Jeremy Silver and Luiz Pampolha- both who’s designs I have been known to swoon over- great artists, nice guys and fun to chat to too. So I went into Cops buzzing with excitement. However- it wasn’t quite what I was expecting- and I went on a Tuesday night- late in the run. So my review really reflects the collide between the production and what I was expecting… and ultimately- this show is a lot of “fun” – I see what people will enjoy about it- but I am not afrid to admit that this wasn’t my thing.

The review as published on

Shaman Productions latest offering at the Darlinghurst Theatre , How to Act Around Cops is an interesting choice for a company which has in recent times produced several excellent plays including Caleb Lewis’ Men Love and the Monkeyboy, and Ross Mueller’s No Man’s Island. On this occasion How to Act Around Cops by American writing partners Logan Brown and Matthew Benjamin has been localised for the Darlinghurst theatre audience after winning awards at the New York International Fringe Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a run at London’s Soho Theatre for which it received the “Critic’s Pick” in Time Out London.

Split into three acts the story follows awkward and wince-worthy encounters with a lone cop (Bryce Youngman) who is “new to the area.” The first act sees Barnum (Andrew Bibby) and Madson (Tamlyn Henderson) handle a roadside interrogation- after an awkward quantity of circumstantial evidence materializes and neither one knows how to handle themselves nor the truth.

The second act opens inside a hotel room in which Dean (Justin Stewart Cotta) and Steph (Angela Hattersley) are involved in a dubious encounter of their own- involving a gag, a suitcase and a screwdriver- until the cop turns up- and attempts to ascertain the situation for what it is, not the situation as it seems.

Act three returns to the roadside- wherein a mysterious and insistent sound coming from the boot of the car refuses to be silenced, and the evening’s misadventures unfold larger, more long term effects on the characters.

Although a part of Darlinghurst’s mainstage season- this is very much a fringe show- a script full of drug references, sexual perversities, awkward social failures, complete misadventures – all the hallmarks of a farce. And farces work really well in a fringe festival setting- they are fun, high energy, bold and a little risqué. Farces trigger spurts of laughter and are pure entertainment born out of rollicking pace, and extreme spontaneous clowning.

Jeremy Silver’s sound design is loud, rock’n’roll high energy fun- the opening sequence is sexy/fun/cool/punchy/exciting tableaux that seek to add that hyped up festival feel to the show- and this largely works. Designer Jessie Giraud has imagined a simple and effective way to transport action between cars on a roadside to the confines of a hotel room – using a tattered shell of a car and converting when necessary. Actors do well with the transitions- and the transformation is fun.

This show provides an alternative to the array of shows on right now- it is definitely not for the theatregoer who is looking for an alternative to A Streetcar Named Desire because they missed it at the STC, nor to those wanting a political exploration with The Bougainville Photoplay Project at the Old Fitz, nor for those interested in two handers delving into ideological differences between friends in Address Unknown. How to Act Around Cops is a show which demonstrates the urgency with which Sydney needs a fringe festival- which I hear is well on its way.