|Courtesy of Giant Olive Theatre|
Walking into the Lion and Unicorn Theatre for Dilated Theatre’s production of SUS is like a walk into a courtroom. With audience seated on both sides and the action taking place at the centre, we are given the opportunity to judge the ideology and authority of the past and how it relates to that of our present and future.
SUS is based on the true story of a black man who was picked up on SUS which stands for ‘stop and search’ – a law that allowed policemen to stop and search anyone they suspect of having committed or having the intention of committing a crime. In the play, the young dad Delroy, having been picked up under the same law numerous times under the pretense of various suspicions, is, unbeknownst to him at first, being detained on the accusation that he murdered his own wife. He is provided with no solicitor while he is brutally harassed both mentally and physically by two police officers right at the moment the Thatcher government is being ushered into power.
The vicious racism in word and action was incredibly difficult to watch and both myself and my guest were physically shaken by the experience. The policeman, played by Nason Crone and Alexander Neal, in a bad cop/worst cop routine were played with just enough nuance to perhaps not make them monsters while never once allowing the audience to sympathise with their point of view. This was a production with a left wing conscious.
Wole Sawyerr as the accused/victim Delroy, took time to settle into his role as a frustrated father and husband on the dole, initially playing the cops at their own game when he thought he’d be let go. However, he soon drops into the most emotional part of himself when his character becomes a man left with absolutely nothing and accused of destroying everything he cared about.
Multimedia, in which film clips of Thatcher’s speeches and a PS of the impact of SUS were projected on screen, felt particularly effective at adding to the visceral nature of the piece. Though difficult to come to terms with, the fact that this is not just a play of the past, it is an important production in ensuring the past and present do not continue into the future.
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SUS runs at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 23rd March 2013.