I went along to the Regent Theatre in Hanley with anticipation, as this was the first time I had seen the production on stage having studied the book all those years ago (1994 to be exact) for my G.C.S.E English examination.
From the first moment and dialogue it all soon came flooding back, sitting in that classroom as reading and judging about political and social crass as the story unfolded, and as this production is in its 30th year, it has stayed current and relevant and judging by the audience last night, kept its surprise and delight to new audiences.
The younger audience members reacted to the daughter of the story’s central Birling family, Sheila. Demureness and playing second fiddle finally forgotten. The role played with plenty of energy and skill Evlyne Oyedokun. Evlyne’s performance lands well, right from a tongue-in-cheek fairy tale princess like entrance, that populates and motivates the moral manoeuvrings of the play.
Liam Brennan makes for a very human, in touch, likeable Inspector Goole. The name implies the opposite, but his take is more engaging with current matters. His character enjoys his grand cross-examiner tasks and finds the lighter moments as he interrogates the Birlings about the death he arrives to report. If Brennan keeps things grounded, Simon Cotton as Sheila’s thwarted lover, Gerald and George Rowlands as her younger brother, Eric are asked to be more melodramatic.
There’s a craze and desire to their stories with lots of shouting, but both actors exonerate themselves well. Their villainy and retributions, even if they feel slightly far reaching, are key to everyone’s gratification.
An Inspector Calls is an unapologetically socialist play attacking self-interest. It’s from the time of 1945.
Priestley’s politics aren’t simply told to us in this beautifully crafted show. They are physically and directly referenced by it’s magical set. It is wonderfully inventive and lifts the text right off the page. The staging was simply sublime. Hats off to Ian MacNeil’s work as we get to see rainy streets and the oppressive middle class homes
I can’t imagine the set to be the easiest thing to tour around the country with today, but it’s wow factor is certainly worth all the effort.
Overall, this An Inspector Calls is officially a record breaker. It is the show’s 25th tour and has been seen by 5 million theatregoers worldwide. The reason? It is a superb play and very, very good.
The reason for this is the amazing drectorship from Stephen Daldry with the help of Charlotte Peters associate director.
The message from J.B Priestley is clear, take personal responsibility for your actions and our collective responsibility to society, to take care of one another.
Please don’t miss this, you wont be disappointed in the slightest.
Run time is 1 hour 50 minutes with no interval.
For tickets visit https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/an-inspector-calls/regent-theatre/
Or by calling the box office 0844 871 7615