Tuesday, 10 November 2015

"An Inspector Calls"
Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Written by English dramatist J. B. Priestley, it is one of Priestley's best known works for the stage and considered to be one of the classics of mid-20th century English theatre.

The play is a three-act drama, which takes place on a single night in April 1912, focusing on the prosperous upper middle-class Birling family, who live in a comfortable home in the fictional town of Brumley, "an industrial city in the north Midlands" The family is visited by a man calling himself Inspector Goole, who questions the family about the suicide of a young working-class woman, Eva Smith (also known as Daisy Renton). The family are interrogated and revealed to have been responsible for the young woman's exploitation, abandonment and social ruin, effectively leading to her death.

Inspector Goole has a great deal of knowledge about the death of Eva Smith, even though the death was that day, and by his own admission, he never spoke to the dead woman, so how did he know so much about the run up to the suicide? All is revealed at the end of the play but there could be clue in his name!!

Apart from the main storyline there are several sub messages bubbling under. From the composite actions of the individuals and their affect on people, to class separation it's a very clever play and production but can sometimes be a little too busy in the undercurrents to take fully in.

The play is studied in many schools and this was reflected in the amount of school students in the theatre.

Liam Brennan plays Inspector Goole. Not your normal Inspector from the set era, 1912, who controls the continuity of the play, the story and the Birling family's continual questioning. Like a dog with a bone, he doesn't give up, but where is he getting all of this knowledge of the deceased and her relationships with the Birlings from?

Loved the character of the matriarchal Sybil Birling, played by Caroline Wildi, and her downfall is a joy to behold.

Tim Woodward plays the father, Arthur Birling. He's a straight talking Northern businessman whose iron rod ruling of his family slowly starts to melt under the red hot questions of Goole. While his family's downfalls are revealed like the peeling of a banana, he too is far from innocent.

Gerald Croft (Matthew Douglas), is the fiance of Sheila Birling (Katherine Jack) and it's at their engagement party that this all starts, and it's Croft who starts to put together, or pull apart the whole mystery of the Inspector.

The younger son, Eric, who may be one of the original Hooray Henrys, is played by Hamish Riddle and it's not until later in the play that his wild ways are revealed. An alcoholic who is also an integral role in the downwards spiral of Eva.

There's also the maid, Edna, played by Diana Payne-Myers,The character has a limited contribution in the play; however she is the only person in the play that can provide an insight into the life of Eva Smith, a character to whom Edna has a similar background (working class). It is she who opens the door to allow the Inspector into the Birlings' lives,

A brilliant set design and special effects which in parts will have your eyes widening and your jaw dropping.Brilliantly directed by Stephen Daldry, this is a very technical piece of theatre which makes for a visually exciting night out. A wonderful piece of classic literature which translates to the stage rather well, which it always has, but this particular production has all the modern edge to make it a treat for all ages.

There's a bit of artistic licence taken in the play though as the first red telephone box wasn't seen in the UK until 1924, but this play was supposed to have been set in 1912. Also the first radio for entertainment wasn't used until 1920, but is shown in this play.

"An Inspector Calls" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 14 November 2015.

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