Through February 1
COPS AND FRIENDS OF COPS First Look Buffalo Stage Productions/Compass Performing Arts Center
Cops are just like a lot of others, stopping in for a drink or two after work.
Their job can be strenuous and taxing.
Ron Klier’s “Cops and Friends of Cops” is somewhat the same as your standard cop bar, filled most hours of the day with officers.
The difference is that Big Bill’s Basement Bar in St. Louis is a cop bar only one night a week and bartender Dom (John Patrick Patti) warns a civilian (Anthony J. Grande) who wanders in that he might want to find a different place to drink because it can get violent when cops get together.
The civilian says he doesn’t care and works on his Budweiser (What else in St. Louis?).
Some cops wander in and things get messy.
There’s the partner team of 40-year veteran cop Sal (Dan Morris) and relatively young Roosevelt (Shakora Purks).
Sal is a racist who has no clue how bad his casual talk and insults are while Roosevelt is Black and resents Sal’s flow of casual insults, even as he learns a lot from the old-timer.
Then, there’s Emmett (Bob Rusch) who’s clearly a cop, with his St. Louis Police Academy T-shirt a clue.
The story solidifies when the civilian shoots Emmett.
Paul (Grande) announces Emmett killed his young daughter.
It takes a while for the story to become clear as to what happened, even as we hear the sound of the crowd waiting outside for Big Bill’s to open.
While most of the script works, with the racial struggle between Sal and Roosevelt and the story of what Emmett did.
What doesn’t work is the cops in the room not shooting Paul as Emmett bleeds out.
They are trained for some pretty bizarre situations and there are numerous opportunities for Roosevelt or Sal to shoot Paul and save Emmett.
Internal Affairs would be all over them for letting this situation drag on.
Of course, this is a play not a real shooting incident.
Still, it’s a plausible situation which gets progressively less plausible as the play moves along and the cops don’t shoot Paul.
Director Drew McCabe has some strong performances to work with, particularly
Rusch, Morris and Purks, along with some taut direction.
There’s also a stunning dive bar set from Rusch and Lauren Woods.
“Cops and Friends of Cops” is worth seeing, as long as you suspend disbelief about some of the events on the stage of the old TheatreLoft.
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