dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

An Inspector Calls review at Playhouse Theatre, London – ‘a timely revival’

Carmela Corbett and Clive Francis in An Inspector Calls at the Playhouse Theatre. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Stephen Daldry’s 1992 National Theatre production of An Inspector Calls is a fascinating theatrical artefact, simultaneously a thing of its time and a play for today (this week more so than ever it seems).

First performed in 1945, JB Priestley’s play still feels dispiritingly, dismayingly relevant. It’s a plea for social responsibility, for compassion and humanity, for people to look at the world and each other beyond the frame of their self-interest.

The conceit of the encasing the wealthy Birling family in an Alice in Wonderland-style house, a drawing room cocoon, remains striking. The family’s gilded home unfolds as their world is disrupted by the arrival of Inspector Goole, bringing news of a young woman’s suicide in which they are all in some way complicit.

Liam Brennan – winner of The Stage Edinburgh Award for his compelling performance in the Gate Theatre’s recent production of Diary of a Madman – is magnetic as Goole, his fury barely contained. Clive Francis and the wonderfully imperious Barbara Marten give suitably over-sized performances as the senior Birlings, stiff with privilege, jolted only briefly out of their comfort and complacency. Not all the performances are as controlled – there are discrepancies of scale – and there are some noticeable creaks and wheezes in this latest West End revival, along with a faint taste of ham. But it remains a remarkable spectacle, a piece of theatre history that speaks to the world in which we live.

panto-2

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Solid and timely West End revival of Stephen Daldry's classic production
^