An Inspector Calls

It might have been running on and off for nearly 18 years now, but Stephen Daldry’s groundbreaking production of JB Priestley’s classic is still as poignant, relevant and fresh as ever. It was so refreshing to sit through a production well into its second decade and not have to groan at how shabby the design looked, how second rate the acting was or even how botched up the costumes looked that in many respects “An Inspector Calls” is a total revelation. But then with Britain’s finest living director, what does one expect?The genius of this piece is that it seems to span so many different time periods and manages to reveal so many hidden truths. Incorporated into Ian McNeil’s stunning doll’s house Edwardian set is the indication that we are in post-War Britain – a time of immense optimism but one which of course led to the inevitable stagnation of the 1950s. However there is also a strong riposte to Margaret Thatcher’s comments that “there is no such thing as society” in Britain. What is so telling about the production in 2009 is the way in which it could be seen to subtly criticise the current Labour government for their failure to bring the rich back into line and the greed and subsequent collapse of the financial system.Nicholas Woodeson is on fine form as Inspector Goole, giving a performance so beautifully detailed and textured that we really are given an insight into the mentality behind the man, while Marianne Oldham shines as the emotionally charged and regretful daughter Sheila Birling. Despite the occasional rustling of sweet packets (Priesley’s play is on the GCSE syllabus) this is a production not to be missed. It is an enjoyable and yet heart wrenching account of a single mother, who we never see, and the many pontifications of who is responsible for her. Surely society has developed sufficiently for us all to play a part? But then again perhaps greed, short-sightedness and a failure to think outside one’s own life are as prevalent now as they were among the aristocrats in the 1940s.

Reviews by John C Kennedy

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The Blurb

From the Oscar nominated Director of The Reader, The Hours and Billy Elliot comes the multi award-winning West End and Broadway production of J. B. Priestley's classic thriller An Inspector Calls.

The story begins with the mysterious Inspector Goole arriving unexpectedly at the prosperous Birling family home. Their peaceful dinner party is shattered by his investigations into their involvement in the death of a young woman whom each of them in turn has exploited.

Stephen Daldry's production of J. B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls is without doubt one of the most outstanding theatrical events of our generation. Winner of 19 major awards, it opened at the National Theatre in 1992, transferring to the West End for two years before going on an extensive international tour including Australia and New York (Broadway). The last West End production ran for 8 years and the show has enjoyed a number of major UK tours.

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