Tag Archives: J.B. Priestley

REVIEW: An Inspector Calls – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The popularity of Stephen Daldry’s award-winning 1992 National Theatre production of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls shows no signs of abating, this 2015 tour marking the 20th time this production has been staged.

Set on a single night in the affluent Birling household, this scathing response to the abhorrent hypocrisy of the lingering Victorian morals that still pervaded Edwardian England, still manages to pack a dramatic punch 70 years on from its first performance.

The Birling family have gathered to celebrate the engagement of daughter Sheila. As the festivities go on inside Ian MacNeil’s teetering dollhouse set, a mysterious figure watches from the rain-soaked, cobbled street below. Revealed to be Inspector Goole, he draws the Birlings out one by one to question them about their involvement with a young woman who has killed herself by drinking a bottle of disinfectant.

As each learns their part in the young woman’s fate, Priestley fully utilises the play to shine a light on the society in which he lived.  A committed socialist, having endured two world wars, caused he believed, by the capitalist disregard for working people and the dysfunction caused by social inequality, we are in no doubt to which side the playwright’s politics lie.

There are many reasons why Priestley’s tale still resonates – the corrosion of a society with a sense of social responsibility and the disparity between the haves and have-nots is as evident today as it was in 1912 when the play is set.

It’s not all doom and gloom, for all the unpalatability of the Birling’s actions, Priestley does provide a glimmer of hope for the future as the young family members reflect on their actions and seemingly change perspective.

Daldry’s innovative, cinematic staging has had its imitators throughout the years and despite its age it remains fresh. What Daldry’s production does successfully is rescue Priestley’s play from being a dusty, drawing room, period piece.

Much of the success of the piece is the central casting of Inspector Goole. Liam Brennan’s extensive stage experience shines through, in his perfect diction and projection, and in a carefully modulated and perfectly pitched performance.

Deserving of the plaudits it has received through the years, it remains a must-see for theatre-lovers.

Runs until Saturday 7 November 2015 | Image: Mark Douet

This review was originally published at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/an-inspector-calls-theatre-royal-glasgow/

REVIEW: Dangerous Corner – Theatre Royal, Glasgow 4****

In J.B. Priestley’s Dangerous Corner, it takes nothing more than a chance remark to set in motion a chain of revelations that have devastating consequences for the guests at publisher Robert and Freda Caplan’s country house dinner party.

Opening and closing like an intricate Chinese puzzle box, the plot unravels as each guest reveals their part in the suicide of Robert Caplan’s brother a year earlier.

Priestley’s first play, written in 1932 isn’t the world-renowned masterpiece that An Inspector Calls is, but it is a work that clearly highlights the promise of its writer. Whilst in many ways the piece is very much of its time: the country house setting, the upper class at play, it is also astonishingly ahead of its time, dealing as it does with drug abuse, homosexuality and adultery, themes rarely touched upon in 1930s theatre.


Played out against the detail-perfect Art Deco set and costume design of Gary McCann, director Michael Attenborough does a fine job of keeping the interest high in what is essentially a static piece. He does however have an easy job thanks to the top-notch cast. Michael Praed is particularly note-worthy as the debonair and devilish cad Charles Stanton, who as well as poking and prodding his fellow guests into revealing more than they they would ideally wish to, delivers his own startling revelations and elicits the lions-share of the laughs with a biting wit. Finty Williams as Caplan’s wife Freda, is effective in portraying both her own disparate emotions and the social dilemma of whether or not to serve sandwiches to her guests, one of whom may or may not be a murderer. Rosie Armstrong, assuming Kim Thomson’s pivotal role as Olwen Peel is also impressive.


The trio are more than ably supported by familiar TV faces Colin Buchanan (Dalziel and Pascoe) as a solid Robert Caplan and Matt Milne (Downton Abbey) as Gordon Whitehouse, though at times Milne looks a little ill at ease in his transition from downstairs to upstairs as troubled (and slightly hysterical) toff Gordon.

Don’t go looking for any controversial comment on the themes that are mentioned in the play, go along and enjoy a hugely entertaining piece of theatre from a highly talented cast and a skilled director and writer.

Runs until Saturday

Tickets at: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/dangerous-corner/theatre-royal-glasgow/