Lion and Unicorn Theatre
As the title suggests Defective Inspector is both a comedy and mystery—one that takes the audience on a whirlwind ‘true’ journey that most probably only happened in the imagination of the main character.
Detective, author and playwright, Richard P Cooper (Harrison Cole) is the star of his own show and is not shy about his accomplishments—he’s sold literally dozens of books worldwide. So where better than to recall his exploits in America than the stage? A place where word count and accuracy do not hinder him.
Part Richard Hannay (The 39 Steps), part Denholm Reynholm (The IT Crowd) and with a sprinkling of John Finnemore, Cooper is narrator as well as lead actor walking the audience through his outrageous escapades.
Due to a typo, his cast numbers two rather than twenty and he’s assisted by Lisa and John (Anna Hodgson and Daniel Hemsley), two drama students who’ve been signed up for the show for volunteering credits. Grasping the opportunity with both hands, the young actors enthusiastically switch characters and accents, ably supporting Cooper in every scene.
With little budget, the props are rough and ready with Lisa and John charging about the stage creating scenes and changing costumes.
The cast of three hurtle through the material, the pace unrelenting and the jokes thick and fast. In the central role of Cooper, Cole barely leaves the stage and Hodgson and Hemsley demonstrate their versatility covering cops and crackheads, politicians and celebrities.
Although the style is reminiscent of a hard-boiled detective novel, Defective Inspector is set in the last decade which gives it an amusing twist. Occasionally, the rehearsed shambles feel a little contrived but more often than not add to the charm of the production.
An enjoyable romp, Defective Inspector is a fun one-act show that, although convoluted, does follow a plot line and clearly defines its characters leading to a somewhat satisfying conclusion. If he existed, Cooper would be proud.
Reviewer: Amy Yorston