An Inspector Calls was written by J B Priestley in 1945 with it’s first debut in 1946. It has had a long, successful history over the years and is currently playing at Wyndham’s Theatre. It is a very popular, well-known thriller that has won numerous awards and it is easy to see why. It grabs your attention right from the beginning when the first child comes on stage looking around. You’re intrigued at what he’s doing and it then begins and doesn’t stop for the whole 1 hour 45 minutes it is playing. You are so engrossed that the time seems to go quickly even with no intermission.
It is superbly cast and the set and effects are unique. It is always amazing to see what can be done with a set and you’d be surprised at what all goes on on this seemingly small stage. The rain and fog add to the mystery and bring a touch of realism.
The year is 1912 and the scene is the home of successful industrialist Arthur Birling (David Roper). A stranger interrupts an important family dinner – the housekeeper Edna (Elizabeth Ross) announces an Inspector Goole (brilliantly played by Nicholas Woodeson) is there to see them. Inspector Goole is there to enquire about the family’s role / involvement in the life and death of Eva Smith (also known by different names by different family members). He talks to each of them – Father Arthur Birling who fired Eva from his factory; Daughter Sheila Birling (Marianne Oldham) who got Eva fired from his shop clerk job; Son Eric Birling (Robin Whiting) who had a relationship with Eva and got her pregnant; Sheila’s Fiancé, Gerald Croft (Timothy Watson) who also knew Eva and had provided accommodations for her / had a relationship; and last but not least, Mother Sybil Birling (Sandra Duncan) who, with a condemning and superior attitude, refused to help the pregnant girl (not realizing until it was too late that it was actually her own grandchild).
Amazingly, each person had an interactive role in what happened to poor Eva and contributed somehow to her death even if it was technically by her own hand. It goes to show though, as a society, that we each have a responsibility to the other and how our actions have consequences although we may not know what they are. Be kind to one another.
I don’t want to give too much away as it is very entertaining and enthralling to see. It keeps you engrossed. I will just say that the ‘Inspector’ may not be who he seemed so who was he and why was he there. Perhaps we all need someone who makes us question/evaluate ourselves and our actions and to keep us accountable.
Bravo to the talented cast and to the crew, directors, designers and all involved for a job well-done.
by Ann Kamran (stagetalk.co.uk)