An Inspector Calls
Alex Wood | 10 Mar 2013 22:32pm
An Inspector Calls is about the Birlings, a respectable upper middle-class family whose lives are turned upside down by a mysterious visitor, Inspector Goole, who reveals that their individual actions – which they regarded as insignificant – have led to the suicide of a young woman. A morality play, set in the Edwardian era, may at first look rather dated but the play reminds us of a simple but essential fact – in a decent society we have a responsibility to look after each other. In this production the play was presented against a simple set based on a doorway and essential furniture and props against black curtains, which worked well to focus our attention on the on-stage action. Lighting was simple – all that is needed for this play – although I was left a little puzzled by an unnecessary effect which was used to accompany Inspector Goole’s arrival. Music was used effectively. I thought the use of photographs from the period, projected onto a large screen before the show was a brilliant idea which really set the scene. Costumes were excellent. In general, acting was of a high standard. Peter Bloor as Arthur Birling impressed with a consistently convincing performance as self-made patriarch industrialist and pillar of society. Victoria Harvey-Jones also impressed as his daughter, Sheila, compassionate in spite of her privileged background. I especially enjoyed seeing Ian Nutt as Gerald Croft, Sheila’s fiancé, who showed all the extraordinary self-confidence of a brash young man from a very wealthy, titled family. Thomas Perry, after a slightly uncertain start came through strongly as Sheila’s brother, Eric Birling, shocked by his own part in the downfall of Eva Smith and scandalised by the callous attitude of his parents. Bruce Walton was an impressive Inspector Goole, sharply interrogating each member of the family about how they had destroyed Eva Smith and drawing the necessary conclusions. A fine performance of a demanding role. My only criticism would be that I have only seen Goole portrayed as a rather world weary man, which I think works best, but this was a more youthful Inspector – possibly chosen to emphasise the idealism he projects. The idea of using an actress to portray Eva Smith, the woman who commits suicide, was an interesting one but I thought it was unnecessary. The decision to have Goole make his valedictory address direct to the audience (rather than to the Birling household) with the house lights on was a bold move which I think did work. Finally, as An Inspector Calls is a set book for GCSE, the audience for this show was overwhelmingly made up of school students. I was delighted to see so many young people getting a chance to see a performance by a local amateur drama group and the enthusiastic reception they gave the play spoke for itself.
- : admin
- : 08/03/2013