Mysterious Inspector Calls a Packed House

An Inspector Calls

Theatre Severn

02nd  October-5th October 2019

Matinee 02nd  and 05th   at 14.30

Sometimes to watch a theatre doing exactly what it can is like watching a top athlete work, every sinew every muscle in synchronicity so too is theatre. Every light cue, every sound cue, Theatre Technology , Actors, Directors to Producers and Designers,  all working together to turn a space “a humble wooden O” as it was once called by Shakespeare into something else entirely. He was right the stage needs to take you to wherever it is you need to be with suspended disbelief. It is emotional to see it happening and this show has a  level of synchronicity that I have never even seen in any athlete.

Enough of the sporting metaphor it is apparent that one witnessed something quite breath taking tonight. For fear of ruining it for you should you be planning on going,  I will not describe the opening sequence…what can be said is that it is simply amazing. The reveal of the set brought great joy in this reviewer and the messages were not ill received either. This is where one sees the theatre exactly as it should be seen and nothing was missed to turn this great play into a brilliant play. I drove home speechless!

It is a play about class and Socialism in mid-Twentieth century.  J.B.Priestley was a socialist and commentator of the age. Born 1895 he had a life spanning 90 years and it seems from when he could raise a pen his voice was heard. Prolific doesn’t even start to cover it.

The narrative here follows the fortunes of the Birling Family presented initially in a time of austerity, a numb time of horror and shock. It was all so recent, as the play opened Moscow 1945, It hit the West End 1946. The bomb craters were, literally still smouldering. History shows us that at that time the giant ruling families were fading. Land was being sold due to death duties and the ruling classes started to go to the wall. This play rather deliciously pushes them a little quicker to that metaphorical wall.

Setting in the Blitz as director Stephen Daldry has done gives room for an excellent depiction of the fall of the ruling class, the unravelling of an unjust and judgemental time when the poor were merely fodder for the rich’s aspirations. It reveals the poor were so intrinsically weaved to their  lives and reflects that they know or even care about this. It finishes beautifully with the tatters of their lifestyle and the vileness therein. They sit in the wreck of their lives. As they raise the Ivory tower again and try to carry on, everything finally crashes down and the family are seen as weak, dishonest and foibled.

One has a rule of not just listing names and associated superlatives, instead one looks for that extra mile that an actor will go to completely emerge into the character. I saw that in equal measure from every player with sublime performances from Liam Brennon as Inspector Goole and Christine Kavanagh as Sybil Birling. The children opening the show did so well Jesse Whale, Bonnie Winyard and William Himmer opened up the show expertly and were instrumental in the entire mis-en-scene. They created the age perfectly.

Praise however where it is due, not only do I feel that Mr. Daldry went above and beyond ensuring the message was transmitted, it was and was received by a packed house of happy theatre goers, but one feels he wants to talk about all times. Is what we are seeing today necessarily wonderful behaviour in the ones we look to for leadership, for example? I rest my case.

Design plays more than a crucial part in this performance and the set by Ian MacNeil is quite like nothing one has ever seen before it can literally take your breath away when you see the genius that has gone into the design. Genius in the interpretation of Priestley’s work combined with the genius to reflect Priestleys/Daldry’s message in the set. Great work and the set alone receives 5 stars which is something one has never done before. One has never singled out one individual for 5 stars after all one has already said it is about synchronicity, but Mr. MacNeil deserves every accolade going. Excellent work.

One is aware of gushing as I feel one is currently, but nevertheless: this is an objective view as you will see if you go yourselves. It is beautifully cast, acted, supremely directed, and in this reviewer’s opinion marks every box and more.

Now subjective, tonight I saw something that moved me deeply  and for that I will never forget this fantastic show. If there were more stars one would bestow them however, you know the rules, consequently…

This is a Five Star Review

Owen J.Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. Follow hos blogspot at https://owenscribblerlewis.blogspot.com

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