‘Superb acting, great casting and a stunning set’
Having watched a TV adaptation in 2015 and missing out, when it played at my local theatre, earlier in the year, this was one press night I was determined not to miss.
Written by J B Priestley at the end of the Second World War and set before the First, An Inspector Calls is a compelling and haunting thriller. The story begins when the mysterious Inspector Goole calls unexpectedly on the prosperous Birling family home. Their peaceful family dinner party is
shattered by his investigations into the death of a young woman.
This piece is undoubtedly ahead of its time being cleverly written to challenge the mind and to encourage the audience to think. What is this play about? Is it trying to be a moralistic story, do we ever really know who is to blame or the catalyst to the devastating circumstances. A portrayal of every action does have consequences, or is it about class and a changing world. Did an authentic inspector really call? Who were the supernumeraries, the family’s consciences? All these thoughts are plausible explanations which all make for an evening of seriously good entertainment.
Leading the cast as Inspector Goole is Liam Brennan, distinctly knowing, casting a net around his suspects, pulling them closer, deftly tripping them up at every avenue. There was definitely something sinister or disturbing or just plain intriguing about this visitor. All had their roles to play and there were some very striking performances by all. Two of my favourites were Barbara Marten as Sybil Birling, reminiscent of Dame Maggie Smiths role in Downtown Abbey, Marten had the one line throwaway’s off to a tee. The consummate matriarch superbly acted. Second, was Edna played by Diana Payne-Myers, ever-present but in the shadows, always ready to place a prop or a chair in exactly the right place. Whilst appearing unseen, this role might seem unimportant but you can read into what you will and I’m sure we have our thoughts as too what her role signifies.
It has to be said though that the absolute stand out star of the night is the set. Designer Ian MacNeil has absolutely surpassed himself, it is breathtakingly stunning and truly had me gasp on more than one occasion, creating an eerily atmospheric ambience. Direction by Stephen Daldry creates a captivating evening, complimented by exquisite costumes.
This haunting thriller which has you pondering long after you leave the theatre, combining superb acting, great casting and a stunning set.