Wednesday, 4 February 2009

An Inspector Calls - Birmingham REP

An Inspector Calls by JB Priestly
Director: Stephen Daldrey
Reviewer: Helen Chapman

This emotive play, written by JB Priestly, and directed by Stephen Daldary, was superbly performed at Birmingham’s REP theatre.

It tells a tale of a highly regarded family yearning to keep their place in society at all costs. The play begins with an entirely different set of values than those learnt by the end of the play, through an unexpected call from an inspector. Throughout the play, family secrets are slowly divulged as each individual is forced to recognise the consequences of their actions.

There was laughter from the audience as Inspector Goole (played by Louis Hilyer) became increasingly exasperated by the family, resulting in a splendid display of overacting to just the right degree as to make his character unbelievable, yet oddly trustworthy. Sheila Burling, wonderfully performed by Marianne Oldham, showed great progression in her character from a spoilt, self-centred girl to a thoughtful, empathetic woman.

The clever use of rain caused a sense of foreboding that only added to the air of unease created by the eerie light that was cast over the characters, creating a thriller like atmosphere. This strange atmosphere was only truly recognised when contrasted with the warm light used while the characters reflected over the night’s strange happenings.

The comfortable and selfish existence that the characters had become so accustomed to, symbolically fell apart when their very house dramatically broke apart, causing the audience to jump on more than one occasion.

The play was a thought provoking piece of traditional theatre, but with a twist. It was an excellent performance that not only drew the audience in to the story, but also made us sit back and evaluate our own lives - just like a good piece of theatre should!

Photos: Roberts Day

An Inspector Calls runs at the REP until Sat 14th Feb 09
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