The play gets right below the surface of an ongoing issue in our society, which shows no sign of resolution, with more than 1,000 people dying in police custody since 1990. Families continue to lose loved ones and police officers continue to fail to be brought to account – the result more deaths. Even when inquest juries bring in unlawful killing verdicts nothing seems to happen. State Red addresses the issue in a truly unique way, bringing together so many elements of the problem in dramatic form. The only qualification is that I have never met a policeman like the character Luke but then maybe that is the point.
There are excellent performances from Samuel Anderson (of Dr Who fame), Maxine Finch, Geoff Leesley and Toby Wharton. Atiha Sen Gupta has certainly produced a great follow up to her debut play, What Fatima Did, which was performed at the Hampstead Theatre in 2009. State Red has been three years in gestation, no doubt drawing on the shooting by police of Mark Duggan in London in 2011 and subsequent events. This is a play well worth seeing, if you enjoy contemporary cutting edge drama dealing with real issues of social justice in today’s world.
*State Red plays at the Hampstead Theatre until 6 December