AN INSPECTOR CALLS | London, New Wimbledon Theatre

The landmark 1992 National Theatre production is back on tour, with some excellent actors reprising their roles, and some less good new additions. Directed by Stephen Daldry, the visionary metatheatrical adaptation of J. B. Priestley’s didactic, socialist play from 1945 has been seen by millions worldwide, with both Daldry’s production and Priestley’s play now part of the English and drama curricula in UK schools.

For those already familiar with the production, this tour has made a few little changes: notably, the old, battered theatre curtain that separates the audience from the oblivious upper class Birling family no longer descends, broken onto the stage, at the finale. This change seems like a a small affront to Daldry’s vision, just to save on a bit of technical set-up.

Other changes are subtler but do not go unnoticed, like Gerald Croft (Simon Cotton) actually vomiting at a dramatic reveal, and Sheila Birling (Evlyne Oyedokun) constantly fidgeting with a handkerchief.

Daldry’s production was designed as an assault on the senses that includes big performances, tipping over at times even into melodrama. But revival director Charlotte Peters seems to be pushing the actors even further, to the point of mania. The excellent pairing of Liam Brennan and Christine Kavanagh, who first played Inspector Goole and Mrs Birling in 2016, remain first-class as ever, and the notable exception to this rule.

Playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre 9 – 17 September 2022, prior to tour.

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