Rebecca Royall reviews the stage adaptation of the JB Priestley classic, An Inspector Calls at Cardiff’s New Theatre.
Having established itself as a ‘must see’ play, An Inspector Calls well and truly delivers.
Set in 1912, the story focuses on the wealthy Birling family who receive a visitor, Inspector Goole, played by Liam Brennan, investigating the suicide of Eva Smith.
So what makes J. B. Priestley’s thriller a must see play? Well, the effects are superb, the lighting and sound are a masterclass, the brilliant cast are multicultural and why wouldn’t you want to witness the vision of a director of Stephen Daldry’s calibre?
The set is almost apocalyptic, with the Birling’s house on stilts like an ivory tower, the gloomy street with children interacting without dialogue and yet saying so much, the costumes, the marvellous pyrotechnics which could wake anyone from a coma, in case you weren’t paying attention – but how could you not?
There is a frightening relevance of class distinctions that are glaringly present today. Audience members could be living next door to an ‘Eva Smith’ attending a food bank. The Birling’s, uncaring about their impact on others, could arguably be a representation of some in prominent positions now.
Then, the beautiful touches of genius, such as an apple being given to a hungry boy, or a carpet being rolled out for only Mrs Birling, not allowing us to stray from the social conscience of the plot.This truly remarkable production of Priestley’s work provokes us to examine our own moral compass. It really is a must see play.
- Interview with The Inspector Calls stars Evlyne Oyedokun & George Rowlands
- An Inspector Calls runs at Cardiff’s New Theatre until October 22, 2002. Visit the New Theatre website for ticket availability.