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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Theatre - An Inspector Calls - The Lowry

Star rating – 5/10

Maybe I was spoilt by the genius set of the Ladykillers at Liverpool last year, where the stage design added so much to that glorious production, but from the off I was bewildered. The set of ‘An Inspector Calls’, currently on a triumphal national tour after a sell out West End run for the former National Theatre production, was so distracting that it was a hindrance rather than a help to the performance.

Such are the accolades this production has received, I was expecting great things, but found the play decidedly average, predictable and totally farfetched. I understand that J.B. Priestley was using it as a vehicle to get his moral and political point across, and so was not too bothered about the story not ringing true. I have no problem in theory with that at all. But I just didn’t buy this production.

Maybe if the action had been taking place in a living room as was originally intended, instead of a dolls’ house of a set that obscured most of the dinner party in the wealthy pre First World War family house, then it would have been better. The merriment is interrupted by an Inspector Goole (the clue is in the name) who calls with news of the horrible suicide of a young woman in a nearby hospital, and continues to reveal how each member of the party has had some hand in her tragic demise.

It is a morality tale, and I heartily agree with the sentiments expressed, but the production simply got in the way. For half the time I thought the actors were going to fall off or trip up on the elaborate set. For the other half I didn’t care what happened to them at all. I am not sure if it Priestley himself who I blame, or director Stephen Daldry, but it was not a night to remember for me at all, even if for the characters in the play it was allegedly a game changer.

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