Wednesday 23 November 2016

An Inspector Calls - Review

Playhouse Theatre, London


Written by J.B.Priestley
Directed by Stephen Daldry

Liam Brennan

Timeless and yet innovative, Stephen Daldry’s production of An Inspector Calls is a treat as the director reprises his bold take on J.B.Priestley’s famed work.

Ian MacNeil’s dynamic and innovative set acts as much more than a mere backdrop, becoming an active and evolving canvas that both reflects and enhances the changing moods of the Birling’s dinner party that plays out through the evening.

Liam Brennan’s Inspector is rough, aggressive and progressively confronting in his stance and it works perfectly, contrasting the angry and righteous Scotsman with the bumbling English Birlings in their perceived arrogance and detachment from reality. Brennan breathes a new life and a wonderful difference into a familiar character. 

Too often, An Inspector Calls can fall into the trap of preaching to its audience. Not here however, with all the pieces coming together to create a stand-out production. 

Other notables are Clive Francis and Barbara Marten as Arthur and Sybil, the two senior members of the Birling family. Hitting just the right note, they capture the moments of humour and drama perfectly. The pair are at their best throughout, highlighting the Birling’s arrogance and the hypocrisy in an incredibly human way that makes the play only more harrowing in its relevance and message.

Today’s GCSE English Literature students can count their lucky stars that this production is running while the story is on their syllabus. A version of a classic that defies convention, with a breathtaking set and excellent performances from a stellar cast.

Runs until 25th March 2017
Reviewed by Josh Kemp
Photo credit: Mark Douet

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