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Oct 2nd, 2009
This morally charged thriller is bound to leave you squirming against your own conscience. Mine certainly became a little loud for comfort during Stephen Daldry's piercing production of JB Priestley's classic 1945 thriller.
The Birling familys festivities are dampened when an Inspector Goole pays an unexpected visit. The prosperous family are in the midst of celebrating their daughters engagement when they are told some rather unfortunate news. Inspector Goole is investigating the suicide of a young woman. His startling revelations reveal that the Birling familys pomp and prestige is in a rather similar position to their precariously balanced oversized Edwardian doll house in which they live.
An Inspector Calls is visually stunning; Ian MacNeil has created a wildly imaginative set with plenty of tricks up its sleeve. The oversized dolls house is perched on stilts towering over the craters and smoking rubble of post-war Britain. The action is staged simultaneously in two different time zones: inside it is 1912 and outside it is 1945. This can be a little confusing at first, but creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the self-obsessed family inside the house, doomed by the consequences of their selfishness, and the society outside for whom the spirit of community has become a valuable weapon in their fight for survival. The war charred streets that surround the house create an atmosphere of menace and one can sense that the fire and blood and anguish of which Inspector Goole warns is closing steadily in.
The current cast are particularly good. Nicholas Woodeson is especially fine as the impassioned Inspector Goole and really draws the audience in and captures the moral urgency of the play. Sandra Duncan gives an outstanding performance as Mrs Birling, capturing the haughty demeanor of one who is far more interested in her position in society - a position shown to be as meaningless as it is precarious than she is of the life of someone she considers beneath her attention.
The swarms of teenage scholars present in the audience confirmed the significance that the moralistic tale of Edwardian greed and hypocrisy viewed from the 1940s has today. The questions raised about social responsibility are as pertinent in me me me society of today, as they were in 1912 when the play was set.
Be sure to watch this expressionistic, enthralling and rigorously intelligent production.
Great night out: for a thrilling production
Morning after effect: thinking twice about one's actions
Recommend to friends: without a doubt
View our show pages for more information about An Inspector Calls, Novello Theatre.
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