An Inspector Calls
20th - 29th September 2012
By JB Priestley
Directed by Ed White
OVO @ Maltings Arts Theatre
When Inspector Goole arrives unexpectedly at the prosperous Birling family home, their peaceful dinner party is shattered by his investigations into the death of a young girl. His startling revelations shakes the very foundations of their lives and challenge us all to examine our consciences.
A philosophical play about social conscience and the crumbling of middle class values, JB Priestley’s masterpiece also holds its audience with the gripping tension of a detective thriller.
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Priestley proves to be good call
IT is easy to see why An Inspector Calls has such an enduring appeal – its timeless components are as pertinent today as they were when JB Priestley wrote the play in 1945.
For despite previous Government protestations that we are all middle class now, society is just as inequitable today as it was then.
So the sight of the Birling family, particularly the two elder members, being exposed for the hypocrites they are by the ostensibly soft-spoken Inspector Goole always makes for great theatre.
An Inspector Calls is a good choice for OVO and was much appreciated by the audience on Saturday. There is a degree of atmospherics in the play for which the small Maltings Arts Theatre stage is perfect.
It also benefited from having some experienced actors on stage and some exciting new faces.
David Widdowson, who is appearing far more regularly in St Albans now he is chair of OVO, plays the Inspector in his usual competent and compelling fashion. He brings a stillness which is disarming to the role but when he turns on the family as the story behind his visit unveils, he is sharp and with a stinging snap in his voice.
He annihilates Arthur Birling, the partriarch of the family who is played with Northern pomposity by George Edkins, another familiar face on the local stage. The dialogue between the two and Birling’s daughter Sheila, played very competently by Louise Langer, is the high spot of the production.
Louise, making her first appearance for OVO, has great spark and her remorse at why the Inspector has called is tangible as is that of her drunken brother Eric, played with increasing confidence as the play goes on by Jason Thorn.
Howard Branch is another actor who never disappoints and he takes the role of Sheila’s short-lived fiance Gerald Croft and Mary Brosnan makes an interesting debut as the snooty Sybil Birling.
An Inspector Calls is directed by Ed White, a long-time member of OVO, whose directorial skills are developing nicely.
ARTHUR BIRLING - George Edkins
SYBIL BIRLING - Mary Brosnan
SHEILA BIRLING - Louise Langer
GERALD CROFT - Howard Branch
ERIC BIRLING - Jason Thorn
INSPECTOR GOOLE - David Widdowson
EDNA - Amber Townsend
Director - Ed White
Producer and Assistant Director - Angharad Pugh-Jones
Stage Manager and Properties - Melissa Cobley
Lighting Designer and Operator - Rick Fears
Publicity and Programme Designer - Adam Nichols
Photographer - Michael Maggs