An Inspector Calls at New Wimbledon Theatre
Under the direction of Stephen Daldry, An Inspector Calls returns to London for the start of its UK tour. The show follows the Birling family, who receive a visit from Inspector Goole regarding the death of a young lady, and the audience witness how each member may be implicated in her death. Stephen Daldry’s vision of An Inspector Calls brings the very haunting and chilling text to life in a unique and fresh way, breaking away from the more traditional staging of the play, which had previously been seen as canon and marked a new era for An Inspector Calls in 1992.
The staging and set of this production are the integral reason it works so well. Initially, the audience is thrown into a haze of darkness and confusion, then greeted with the doll-like house belonging to the Birling family. This helps to perpetuate the idea of them as cautionary tales. The innovative designs of Ian MacNeil help to bring this 77-year-old play to life for a modern age. Though are were some minor technical difficulties at the beginning of this performance, the actors on-stage do an incredible job to keep things moving smoothly.
The characters of Sheila Birling (Evlyne Oyedokun) and Inspector Goole (Liam Brennan) are particularly engaging to watch, constantly bridging the gap between the humorous and the more tense scenes. Oyedokun’s light, seemingly fairylike disposition contrasted with the serious revelations voiced by her character further adds to the idea of making the truth palatable, whereas the brash nature of Brennan as Inspector Goole forces both the characters and the audience to listen to the points he is making, whether or not they are welcomed.
Overall, the calibre of performance of the actors is such that it is difficult to find fault. The narrative most definitely holds a shattered mirror to the audience and society as a whole, and it is telling that a play written over 70 years ago can hold such relevance for society today, amid the lack of care we show for those we meet every day. JB Priestly would probably be disappointed to learn that there is still a need for this lesson, rather than the show being reminder of what we as a society had already learnt.
An Inspector Calls is at New Wimbledon Theatre from 9th September until 17th September 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.