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Cool Cops!

In the wake of recent image-tarnishing law enforcement abuse scandals, writers Reed and Kirk Ward have created a cadre of police officers who wallow in all of society's ills: alcohol, drugs, theft, brutality, murder and beyond. What the writers have left out are any true victims.

With:
Cast: Lee Arenberg (Detective Woody Durbin), Jack Black (Sgt. Rock Wilcox), Chris Bell (Mack), Ned Bellamy (Chief), Cynthia Ettinger (Baby Doll), V.J. Foster (Greasy Joe), Lisa Galiana (Cookie), Brent Hinkley (Panhandle), Lisa Robin Kelly (Miss Betty), Ray Mickshaw (NeedleNose), Jason Reed (Officer Tyler), Mitch Watson (Officer Swanson), Karl Weidergott (various roles). The satirical style of this Actors' Gang-produced multimedia one-acter is reminiscent of Bertolt Brecht's anti-establishment "epic" theater concept of the 1920s and '30s , which created caricatured stereotypes of authority figures as a statement against the social and political injustices of the day. "Cool Cops!" has the style, but makes no statement other than to present depravity and debauchery for its own sake. And under Jason Reed's no-holds-barred direction, the Actors' Gang ensemble commit themselves to the concept with unabashed enthusiasm.

In the wake of recent image-tarnishing law enforcement abuse scandals, writers Reed and Kirk Ward have created a cadre of police officers who wallow in all of society’s ills: alcohol, drugs, theft, brutality, murder and beyond. What the writers have left out are any true victims.

TX: TX:The Actors’ Gang presents a play in one act written by Jason Reed and Kirk Ward. Directed by Reed. There is no balance of good and evil, just 75 minutes of pistol-and-badge-toting lowlifes attempting to out-raunch one another until they are all dead.

Interestingly enough, the evening starts on a promising note with Michael Schlitt’s quite impressive video takeoff of the “Top Cops” television genre of real-life police in action. Unfortunately, the live action then takes over and quickly spirals down to the lower depths, as the “Cool Cops!” attempt to solve the murder of one of their own, Detective Woody Durbin (Lee Arenberg), who was bumped off just as he was about to publish his memoirs of life on the force.

Some of the performances are impressive. Arenberg gives a rousing, tongue-in-cheek monologue on being a cop. Ned Bellamy’s hyperactive police chief is often hilarious as the one officer who never quite knows what’s going on. And Ray Mickshaw is droll as the wheelchair-bound detective NeedleNose.

But the star of the ensemble has to be Brent Hinkley, as the super-charged former undercover cop turned street person known as Panhandle, whose flamboyant persona exudes an intriguing Marx Brothers-like quality. Tech aspects of the production are excellent. The imaginative set and lighting designs of Johnny Creamer and Ellen Lundquist, respectively, provide a more than adequate environment for the often intensely high-powered action. Oingo Boingo drummer Johnny (Vatos) Hernandez accents every aspect of the fast-paced onstage proceedings without overpowering the scene.

Cool Cops!

Production: Cool Cops! (The Actors' Gang; 65 seats; $ 10 top)

Crew: Sets, Johnny Creamer; lighting, Ellen Lundquist; costumes, Alix Hester; original video, Michael Schlitt; musical director, Johnny (Vatos) Hernandez. Opened May 17; reviewed June 16; runs through June 29. Running time: 1 hour, 15 min.

With: Cast: Lee Arenberg (Detective Woody Durbin), Jack Black (Sgt. Rock Wilcox), Chris Bell (Mack), Ned Bellamy (Chief), Cynthia Ettinger (Baby Doll), V.J. Foster (Greasy Joe), Lisa Galiana (Cookie), Brent Hinkley (Panhandle), Lisa Robin Kelly (Miss Betty), Ray Mickshaw (NeedleNose), Jason Reed (Officer Tyler), Mitch Watson (Officer Swanson), Karl Weidergott (various roles). The satirical style of this Actors' Gang-produced multimedia one-acter is reminiscent of Bertolt Brecht's anti-establishment "epic" theater concept of the 1920s and '30s , which created caricatured stereotypes of authority figures as a statement against the social and political injustices of the day. "Cool Cops!" has the style, but makes no statement other than to present depravity and debauchery for its own sake. And under Jason Reed's no-holds-barred direction, the Actors' Gang ensemble commit themselves to the concept with unabashed enthusiasm.

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