Sus – Pulse Fringe Festival, New Wolsey Theatre

There are occasional moments when reviewing theatre when a production just astounds you with its ability to convey the rawest of human emotions. Sus is one such production.

In a current short tour prior to a run at the Young Vic Barrie Keeffe’s 2008 play receives a timely and powerful revival.

Set on election night 1979, a night that would see Thatcher sweep to power, a black man has been held on nothing more than suspicion and is being interrogated by two police officers. It’s a routine he has been through before and expects to go through again, a game and routine where the players all know their role.

Tonight is going to be very different though as Delroy’s wife has died and the police are determined to get a conviction before the election is won.

While the power to hold and interrogate suspects under the Sus laws now seems abhorrent, this astute production makes us reflect on the current raft of powers in the name of anti terrorism. Has that much changed over the last 30 years?

Keeffe’s writing is spot on, building tension from the outset and never allowing the audience respite. This is uncomfortable, chilling but utterly gripping viewing. Director Gbolahan Obisesan revels in building the tension but focuses in on the interrelationships of the three characters. It could be easy to rely on stereotype and taking sides but the production allows the audience to take the journey towards the almost unbearable finale.

Simon Armstrong, Clint Dyer and Laurence Spellman all excel, giving performances of incredible depth and detail.

It may not be easy viewing and it will leave you emotionally drained but Sus is one production that makes you realise the true power of theatre.

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