J. B. Priestly’s classic thriller An Inspector Calls opened at Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Theatre on Tuesday and straight away captured the audience with its eerie music and stunning set.
This award-winning National Theatre production has been revived by Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry and the story is as relevant today as it was in 1912, when the play is set.
The show opens with wandering children sneaking around the streets, on the apparent hunt for food and shelter as the rain pours onto the stage. The audience can hear a feint noise of voices in the background and all becomes clear when the curtain drops to reveal the magnificent set, comprising of an isolated mansion. It is inside this extravagant home that we get a first glimpse of the Birling’s – an upper-class family celebrating the engagement of daughter Sheila (Kelly Hotten) to wealthy businessman Gerald Croft (John Sackville).
The festivities are interrupted when the mysterious Inspector Goole (Tom Mannion) arrives to question the party about the suicide of a working-class girl by the name of Eva Smith. Goole questions each member of the party individually and one-by-one the family’s involvement in the young girl’s life begins to unravel.
As the drama unfolds, the audience begins to get an insight into the clear divide between the Birling’s extravagant lifestyle and the lives of many others in the English town of Brumley, who we are told face a struggle to get by on a daily basis.
Goole expertly provides evidence to each of the party members that they share a responsibility in the death of Eva Smith and it leaves some thought-provoking questions with the audience. The Birling’s world literally falls apart, as the family home spectacularly collapses on stage.
As the Inspector leaves, we are asked to think about our own lives and whether or not we can do more to help those who need it most. The family too, are also left to ponder Goole’s message as the play throws up one final twist.
The cast, led by Tom Mannion, are all in top form with some intense confrontations.
Stimulating, gripping and visually stunning, this is a production which is as relevant today as it was was when it first appeared on stage in 1946, and one that should not be missed.
Tickets are still available for the show which runs until March 3.