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REVIEW: Barrie Keeffe's SUS — Sidehammer's Poignant Revival Of A 45-Year-Old Script That Is As Relevant As It Was In 1979

REVIEW: Barrie Keeffe's SUS - Sidehammer Production's Poignant Revival Of A 45-Year-Old Script That Is As Relevant As It Was Then In 1979 — An Evocative Play Portraying How Everyone Should Feel Safe In This Country

SUS is set on the Election Night of 1979; the eve of Conservative Margaret Thatcher toppling incumbent Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan with a 44-seat majority in Parliament (Credit: Dylan Cubbin/Supplied/Image was provided to The Liverpudlian to share, courtesy of the Publicist on behalf of their client. We make no claim to this content).
SUS is set on the Election Night of 1979; the eve of Conservative Margaret Thatcher toppling incumbent Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan with a 44-seat majority in Parliament (Credit: Dylan Cubbin/Supplied/Image was provided to The Liverpudlian to share, courtesy of the Publicist on behalf of their client. We make no claim to this content).

Barrie Keeffe's SUS is Sidehammer Productions' second fine-tuned production. It is also the second time that they have made me well up in such a visceral way at their performances.


From the offset, SUS drew you in. As is often the case with Sidehammer Productions' portfolio of high calibre works; they blend video projections and cinematic stage works —from the look and feel of the set design, to the outstanding casting, and the eerey mood drenched wich such a sombre tone— that build to a powerful crescendo for the audience comprising of a beautifully dynamic range of emotions as the suspension of disbelief is in full effect.

'Through their compassion, devotion to the source material, and the collective's impeccable abilities... again emphasise their mastery in what theatre is about.' - The Liverpudlian.

With also going to watch the nationally beloved and critically lauded Blood Brothers at The Floral Pavilion the following week, which was also an impressive and evocative piece of theatre, this play reminded me of their previous production last year.


As I have previously expressed in my review of Sidehammer's rendition of John Dillon's WEARING COLOURS about the Heysel Disaster, describing it as 'a theatrical performance of the calibre that is in the same vein as Blood Brothers.' This statement stands true, and can equally be applied to their outstanding production of SUS.

SUS is set on the Election Night of 1979; the eve of Conservative Margaret Thatcher toppling incumbent Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan with a 44-seat majority in Parliament (Credit: Dylan Cubbin/Supplied/Image was provided to The Liverpudlian to share, courtesy of the Publicist on behalf of their client. We make no claim to this content).
SUS is set on the Election Night of 1979; the eve of Conservative Margaret Thatcher toppling incumbent Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan with a 44-seat majority in Parliament (Credit: Dylan Cubbin/Supplied/Image was provided to The Liverpudlian to share, courtesy of the Publicist on behalf of their client. We make no claim to this content).

The company’s sheer high level production values, interpretation of the scripts they are bringing to life, furthermore the sheer wight of the topics is so serious and carries such huge weight that a misstep of the handling of such monumentally serious subjects could be distasteful at best and utterly insulting and insensitive at worst.


Through their compassion, devotion to the source material, and the collective's impeccable abilities in casting, acting, production, directing, sound and lighting all combined again emphasise their mastery in what theatre is about.

Peter Lang of The Liverpudlian holding the show's programme, attending the closing performance of Barrie Keeffe's SUS (Credit: The Liverpudlian).
Peter Lang of The Liverpudlian holding the show's programme, attending the closing performance of Barrie Keeffe's SUS (Credit: The Liverpudlian).

If any of these factors were even marginally off, the production would lose its weight. Though it doesn't, and SUS was an almighty success. The immediate and extended standing ovation speaks volumes about the performance, likely more than my words on this page can, as a room packed to the rafters in Liverpool's Theatreland perfectly expresses the sentiment in the room.


The fact that you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium conveys both how tense the play made everyone feel and how invested the auidence was in Delroy's story.


The values pouring into the play genuinely takes their productions to the merit of a larger stages and for other parts of the UK to embrace.


In terms of story, there wasn't a best missed, working from the original script first written in 1979, reviving the story for today's audiences which in many ways SUS is heartbreakingly still relevant with today's society.

'Although the play takes place in 1979 it is still in many ways, very much a reflection of our world now.' - Thom Williamson of Sidehammer Productions talking about their revival of Barrie Keeffe's SUS.

SUS is on the Election Night of 1979, the eve of Conservative Margaret Thatcher toppling incumbent Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan with a 44-seat majority in Parliament.


The play encompases an emotionally complex series of events that unfold over the course of the night and into the early house of the morning, until dawn. A challenging watch, however, one that is unregretful. The story follows the gutwrenching ordeal that Delroy goes through, facing off against to radicalised, racist police officers that truly believe they hold his fate in their hands, and fists.

SUS is set on the Election Night of 1979; the eve of Conservative Margaret Thatcher toppling incumbent Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan with a 44-seat majority in Parliament (Credit: Dylan Cubbin/Supplied/Image was provided to The Liverpudlian to share, courtesy of the Publicist on behalf of their client. We make no claim to this content).


The 2024 revival of the 45 year-old script for SUS was brough to life by the independent Liverpool theatre company, Sidehammer Productions.

'cinematic stage works... that build to a powerful crescendo for the audience comprising of a beautifully dynamic range of emotions as the suspension of disbelief is in full effect.' - The Liverpudlian.

The play took place at Hope Street Theatre on Friday the 2nd and Saturday the 3rd of February 2024 in Liverpool City Centre, performing to a packed out theatre. SUS was Directed by Sean Ponzini, starring Thom Williamson as Karn, Dave J Williamson as Wilby, and Rikki Dallas as Delroy.

SUS earns itself a well and truly earned 5 Liver Birds out of 5.

SUS earns itself a well and truly earned 5 Liver Birds out of 5.

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