By Lewis Empson
★ ★ ★ ★
J. B. Priestly’s staple of the whodunnit genre is as pertinent as ever within today’s society. Watching it unfurl on stage with social commentary still as relevant as its debut in 1945 is an engaging and thought-provoking experience.
We are first introduced to a dirty, dimly lit street inhabited with impoverished children, contrasted with the decadent home of the Birling family towering above them – immediately setting the stage for the themes of capitalist critique and class divide to be explored. The set design was very impressive, feeling incredibly textured and dynamic with a thick smog engulfing the grimy cobbled street, water pouring down emulating heavy rainfall and a looming townhouse which soon is thrown wide open to unveil an extravagant interior with the Birling family inside; acting almost as a morally depraved upscaled doll’s house.
In regard to the Birling family themselves, the performances were mostly good, and I found myself consistently invested throughout; however, they sometimes bordered on soap-opera melodrama with over-acted fights and one-note character emotions as well as some stumbled lines within the first half, although the cast quickly got into the flow of the performance. An exception to this would be Inspector Goole, portrayed by Liam Brennan, who led a commanding stage presence delivering intense, stern monologues alongside light-hearted quips – captivating the audience from the moment he stepped onto the stage until the moment he stepped off of it.
Something that impressed me throughout was the keen attention to detail as the play progressed. The costumes and set became more dishevelled as the story progressed and devolved into chaos; neatly tucked suits and billowing ball gowns became dirty and unkempt and towards the end the house collapses in an impressive display of explosive pyrotechnics. All of this creates a real atmosphere of disarray and perfectly depicts the stress and unrest that the characters are facing as well as being visually effective and unexpected. Overall the “An Inspector Calls” is still a relevant and engaging story to this day and is done justice with this adaptation that boasts appealing production and a faithful portrayal of the cast of the morally bankrupt