Sus has technically been consigned to the historical past books, however was as soon as synonymous with racial tensions between the police and native communities. It was finally repealed by the Prison Makes an attempt Act 1981. Sus (derived from ‘Suspect Underneath Suspicion’) was the legislation that permitted a police officer to cease, search and probably arrest an individual in breach of the Vagrancy Act 1824. Regardless of its repeal, there are trendy echoes within the cease and search provisions of the Prison Justice and Public Order Act 1994. A contact of legalese is necessary to know why this 1979 play by Barrie Keeffe remains to be necessary and related at this time.
Its election night time: third Could 1979 and Margaret Thatcher is on the brink of a landslide victory. The police station is in a state of frenzy as DS Karn (Alexander Neal) contemplates a brand new social panorama. His keen junior officer DC Wilby (Fergal Coghlan) is excitedly relaying updates by way of the employees canteen. Nonetheless, they’ve the distraction of a suspicious loss of life on their patch. Karn and Wilby have made their minds up and pull in luckless underdog Delroy (Stedroy Cabey) for questioning. It is not the primary time he is been detained by the police and is unfazed by this newest ‘collar’. Nonetheless, devastating information turns this recreation of cat and mouse into one thing extra sinister.
Right here we now have a play that was up to date when it was written and a interval drama in revival. It feels authentically Nineteen Seventies, from the ill-fitting fits to £1 notes and a wall-mounted dial-faced phone. It may simply be a scene from the Sweeney or Z Automobiles however is not any much less highly effective and nonetheless packs a punch. The problems raised by SUS are as topical now as they had been 40 years in the past. The script has a visceral high quality undimmed by the passing years. It is a uncooked portrayal so typical of late playwright Barrie Keeffe who additionally wrote the Lengthy Good Friday. We see how the chances had been stacked in opposition to individuals who lacked the safety finally given by the Police and Prison Proof Act 1984. There is a tinge of disappointment that it’s nonetheless related at this time however illustrates how little has actually modified. It is the signal of an amazing play that may nonetheless resonate by way of later generations. A top quality solid put in a great shift because the plot strikes alongside at a energetic tempo to a satisfying conclusion.
Assessment by Brian Penn
Seat: Unallocated seating | Worth of Ticket: £12/£15