An Inspector Calls

Date 14th June 2013
Society Bovingdon Players
Venue Memorial Hall, Bovingdon
Type of Production Drama
Director Mark Waghorn

Report

Author: Leigh Holden

With its tightly wound and didactic plot 'An Inspector Calls' is, in my opinion, a very fine play.  Bovingdon Players certainly showed an understanding of this and I was left in no doubt that they had done the play justice.

The curtains opened to reveal a set perfectly suited to the Birlings’ middle class status.  The decor accorded with my view of how Sybil would have chosen to decorate the room; elegant and understated.  The setting of a table on stage is often difficult; I felt that the Director had coped with this adequately, although I was slightly uncomfortable with the way that Sybil and Eric had to talk back towards the rest of the family.

Terry Casserley as Arthur Birling portrayed the character with just the right amount of pomposity.  The audience soon got the measure of his status in society and that he wasn’t afraid to “share” his opinions!   A very good all round performance as Arthur with a good Northern accent.

Imogen Roberts was tremendous as Sybil Birling.  Sybil succeeded at giving the air of a lady born into money and who “does a great deal of useful work in helping deserving causes”!  There certainly was dramatic impact when she discovered that it was in fact her son about whom she had been saying “I blame the young man.  He ought to be dealt with very severely.”

Lisa Harbron’s portrayal of Sheila Birling was delightful.  I felt that she got the balance between being a petulant child and a strong young woman exactly right.  I was particularly impressed with the composure she showed during Gerald’s revelation of his association with Daisy Renton.  A fine talent for such a young actress.

Sean Chalkwright’s Eric was very good.  Overall he could have acted a little more drunk and it might have been a nice touch if he had “downed” his drink before launching into the story of his relationship with the girl.  Gradually getting more and more drunk would have given more meaning to the lines - hard to do, but I have no doubt a talented young actor like Sean could master it.  Eric’s anger towards his mother and father towards the end of the play was very believable and extremely well acted.

The atmosphere on stage at the revelation that the father of the girl’s unborn child was Eric sent a shiver down my spine.

Adam Briffett as Gerald Croft succeeded in showing that he was an incredibly respectful young man, trying to impress his future in-laws.  I was comfortable with his portrayal of Gerald.

John Downs played Inspector Goole extremely well.  He had a good air of authority which grew throughout the play.  There were perhaps some missed opportunities by him to make more of the silences within the play.  Inspector Goole is a “goulish” character and I would have liked to have felt slightly more unnerved by the character throughout the play.  That said, his parting speech was absolutely spine-tingling and I did feel unnerved by him at that point.

Corinne Bell as Edna did exactly what was required of the part.  She was polite and respectful of her employers.  Her presence onstage was a timely reminder of the presence of the lower classes who families such as the Birlings dominated in that era, which became evident throughout the course of the play.

This was an extremely well performed and enjoyable play by Bovingdon Players.  Credit should go to Mark Waghorn for his sound directorial decisions.  As the play reached its denouement and the phone call telling of the death of Eva Smith was received I felt that the cast had succeeded in performing it to a really high standard and I left feeling that I had just watched a high-calibre production.