AN INSPECTOR CALLS | London, New Wimbledon Theatre

J. B. Priestley’s 1945 soul-searching drama takes place in an upper class family household dining room in 1912. But the world famous 1992 National Theatre production, directed by Stephen Daldry, takes place in a theatre. A supernatural theatre where 1945 and 1912 combine, where an air raid siren gives way to a white tie dinner and talk of the wonder of the new vessel RMS Titanic. And inevitably, the audience are part of the show.

Some may find the meta-theatrical framing unhelpful. At the production’s core is Priestley’s play, where an urgent, machismo Inspector Goole (Liam Brennan) questions the smug Birling family about a young girl’s suicide, and the family begins to unravel.

Liam Brennan reprises his award-winning turn as Inspector Goole, for his fourth year, as does Hamish Riddle as Eric Birling, following acclaim on the West End in the same production last year. Christine Kavanagh is the most striking new addition, giving grand dame Sybil Birling an unusually gentle smile and a silk-smooth voice.

The Birlings’ on-stage house (poised on stilts over a bomb-crater) and the New Wimbledon Theatre both share an obvious similarity: a green, metal dome and spire over the roof. In this instance, it is, of course, coincidence, but a profound coincidence nonetheless. We are all in the Birlings’ house, we are all being questioned, and nothing is as it seems.

An Inspector Calls is touring internationally.

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