SUS at Park Theatre
The late Barrie Keeffe’s modern classic SUS is a harrowing play with great suspense and a payoff that doesn’t disappoint. This revival features a simple production and some powerful acting, resulting in a nerve-wracking experience that deserves to be remembered.
Nobody can deny the political turbulence that marked the Thatcher years, and SUS, set on the election night in 1979, highlights these tensions perfectly. It’s a marvellously paced piece with few wasted words during its roughly 80-minute runtime.
The plot features Delroy (Stedroy Cabey), a young black father who is being interrogated by racist police officers Karn (Alexander Neal) and Wilby (Fergal Coghlan). While he initially believes he is merely a victim of SUS – suspect under suspicion, now known as stop and search – it soon turns out that they suspect he is responsible for a more serious crime.
SUS lives and dies by its actors, and all three are fantastic. Neal and Coghlan are initially friendly but, as the interrogation progresses, increasingly betray their racist tendencies in an almost erratic manner that makes them unpredictable and terrifying. Cabey’s Delroy, meanwhile, displays nuanced vulnerability as he grows from being an initially unpolitical victim of police violence into a more aware and resentful member of society. This character development is effective and perfectly justified within the play’s development, and Cabey delivers excellently on all complexities of the character, from quiet mourning to outright anger at the policemen.
Director Paul Tomlinson, himself a lifelong friend of Keeffe’s, presents a subtle production with simple and apt-looking set design by Lee Newby that resembles an interrogation room with just a few props. There’s little in terms of lighting and sound, but plenty of movement that rightly puts the emphasis on the actors to great effect.
As such, there is little to criticise in this production of SUS. It is a fine modern classic with some beautifully believable dialogue, acted pristinely by a cast who manage to bring the story to life.
Photo: Charles Flint
SUS is at Park Theatre from 21st September until 15th October 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch footage from rehearsals of the production here: