by Tony Tortoro

If you want to find the truth you have to stop living a lie

Chicago. 1957. Four cops, different ages, classes and races, all living a lie and mired in mutual suspicion, have to grab a gangster-turned-state-witness before the Mob can get him. 

Outside their office the world is changing. Race riots. Mass consumerism. Civil Rights. Rock ‘n’ Roll. Sex is everywhere... 

Inspired by real-life events in the often brutal and corrupt world of 1950’s Chicago policing and Mob violence, this powerful new play lays bare masculinity and racism with authentic characters, razor-sharp comic banter and soulful poignancy.

Cast  Roger Alborough, Jack Flammiger, Daniel Francis, James Sobol Kelly & Ben Keaton
Director  Andy Jordan
Set & Costume Designer  Anthony Lamble
Lighting Designer  Robbie Butler
Composer & Sound Designer  Simon Slater
Producers  Andy Jordan & Brian Daniels

Wed 25 January to Sat 1 Februay
Mon-Sat 8pm  Tue & Sat Matinee 3.30pm
Southwark Playhouse
75-85 Newington Causeway London SE1 6BD
Box Office 020 7407 0234
Book online here

Photos by Robert Day

Chicago, Corroded City and its Cops
Chicago Mayor John Staines (1858 – 1860) was part-owner of a Michigan copper mine. He was mocked as “copper stock” by his foes, and the police serving him were dubbed “cops.” Thus the term for the men (and later women) who served to protect the citizenry was to become indistinguishable from a metal that does not rust but may corrode. Tony Tortora’s play COPS explores the corrosive influence of capitalism, in its most criminal guises, on the institution of the police force.

The play is character and relationship driven, and has funny, razor-sharp dialogue. It authentically evokes the world of Chicago policing in 1957 and presents a strong dramatic situation - a pressure cooker police precinct office in which four cops of different ages, classes and races, struggle to work as a team whilst riven by personal demons, violent antagonisms and mutual suspicion.

The detectives in COPS represent law and order in a cutthroat, crime-ridden city haunted by the Race Riot of 1919 (Chicago remains remarkably segregated). The spectres of both World Wars and the Korean War plague the minds of many of the men expected to provide security and stability to an urban environment where gangsters are kings.  Each of the characters in COPS is living a lie in a society built on fraud. The lie has to be confronted, and, in the doing of it, private pain and personal vulnerability is movingly revealed.  

blends comedy and drama within the realism of the play’s setting, a rapidly changing late 1950s American world where police brutality and graft, the Civil Rights movement, inner city racial tensions, Mob violence, and mass consumerism all directly affect the characters. The mores of rock n’ roll and its celebration of sexual rebellion is splintering the constrictive conservatism of the fifties. Elvis Presley signals an explosive shift toward the abandon of the sixties, as much as an appropriation of African American music by the technological juggernaut of a record industry predominantly run and exploited by white America. Radical change is coming to the country and the cocktail of combustible elements is threatening to ignite.

 is not only a colourful and entertaining play but also an unusual one in the way its storytelling works, putting the focus firmly on its characters and their inter-personal struggles. 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. In this way we come to understand the subjects the play deals with: masculinity, racism, corruption, social injustice and inter-generational and class conflict, which make the play feel contemporary and relevant.

Andy Jordan & Timothy Trimingham Lee

Andy Jordan Productions was founded in summer 2000, evolving from an earlier and much renowned theatre company, Bristol Express also established by Andy Jordan. It is led by Andy Jordan, a highly experienced director and producer in theatre, television and radio drama

The company is a non-funded organisation, operating in a commercial context, but committed to producing largely new work – new plays, musicals and comedy, often written by new writers, in all forms and styles of theatre. We are driven by the desire to create quality work, of whatever nature.   

Shows by Andy Jordan Productions have included Picasso's Women (with Jerry Hall, Susannah York, Josie Lawrence, Gwen Taylor, Cherie Lunghi), Kings of the Road (with James Ellis, Ed Byrne), Last Song of the Nightingale (with Olivier award-winner and Tony nominee Tracie Bennett), Talk About The Passion, and seven of Carl Djerassi's plays, Oxygen (co-written with Roald Hoffmann), An Immaculate Misconception, Three on a Couch, Calculus, Phallacy, Taboos and Foreplay

Further information

Producer Andy Jordan

General Manager Chris Corner