SUS – theatre review

“Sus” (Suspect Under Suspicion) gave police the power to stop, search and arrest a suspect without a warrant. Believing, with considerable justification, that they were being unfairly targeted, various black communities rioted and the controversial law was repealed in 1981.

Yet although it’s over thirty years old, Barrie Keeffe’s short, powerful three-hander (set in a bleak police interview room as the election results pronounce Margaret Thatcher the new leader) still resonates.

Delroy, an unemployed black man has been brought in for questioning. It’s not the first time he’s had to face the fuzz, and at first he treats the whole business as a routine joke, assuming he’s been picked up, yet again, without cause. But this time things are far more serious. Whilst he was out drinking, his wife has been found dead in her bed and he’s the chief suspect.

Keeffe paints a damning portrait of police racism with Simon Armstrong’s older, suited D.S. Karn all fake bonhomie and cruel intent and Laurence Spellman’s quieter, dog-loving D.C. Wilby itching to give Delroy a sadistic beating.  Clint Dyer is utterly convincing as Delroy, his cocky nonchalance giving way to outrage and despair when he’s handed his wife’s blood-soaked nightdress and is up against these two figures of authority determined to find him guilty.

Director Gbolahan Obisesan’s simple staging gives an up-close, ringside view, and provides an effective reminder of how the current stop-and-search laws (brought in by the 2000 Terrorism Act) still offer the possibility of similar   discrimination and misuse of power.       


Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ
Tube: Southwark / Waterloo
0207 922 2922
Till 26 June
£15.00 (under 26’s £10

Review: Louise Kingsley