Writer: J.B. Priestley
Director: Stephen Daldry
J.B. Preistley’s An Inspector Calls is a classic thriller that reveals the sordid depravity that lies beneath the veneer of the bourgeoisie. Ian MacNeil’s set plays a big part in the proceedings with its dining room at first concealed by a wall with windows through which we see the characters. Then later opens up to reveal its contents.
It is a smoky start with spindly kids on stage and an elderly cleaner. Inside there is a dinner party which allows us to start to know the cast. Arthur Birling (Jeffrey Harmer) dominates the group boasting about his upcoming knighthood and positions of power. His daughter Sheila (Chloe Orrock) is celebrating her engagement to Gerald Croft (Alasdair Buchan) who gives her an expensive ring.
The Birling’s son Eric (Ryan Saunders) is rather tipsy and making a spectacle of himself but as the party is in full swing the inspector of the title calls. No spoilers here but Inspector Goole (as he is known) goes through the revellers one by one to link their connection to a young girl who has committed suicide. Their responses to his questioning lead to some grave misdemeanours being revealed by all. But Priestley holds back the truth till near the end.
Stephen Daldry’s direction is masterful and Stephen Warbeck’s music extremely suspenseful. The ensemble is entirely believable especially the two younger actors (Orrock as Sheila and Saunders as Eric) who are both at first baffled but then frantic in their guilt. The family unit manages to fall apart and it is almost painful to watch. For Eric’s confession a crowd come on stage to show that the events the investigation is uncovering will be known by all.
As the inspector Liam Brennan is playful and ironic but at other times forceful and almost sadistic. This is nothing though compared to the cruelty of the five accused and this also is practically overbearing. A fine thriller that keeps you on your toes until the very end.
Runs until 1st February