J. B. Priestley
Where and When
17th – 19th October 2013 @ The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne
An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley, is a play that revolves around the apparent suicide of a young woman called Eva Smith.
In the play, the unsuspecting Birling family are visited by the mysterious Inspector Goole. He arrives just as they are celebrating the engagement of Sheila Birling to Gerald Croft. The Inspector reveals that a girl called Eva Smith, has taken her own life by drinking disinfectant. The family are horrified but initially confused as to why the Inspector has called to see them. What follows is a tense and uncomfortable investigation by an all-knowing Inspector through which the family discover that they are all in fact caught up in this poor girl’s death.
- Arthur Birling – Richard Neal
- Sybil Birling – Chrissie Neal
- Sheila Birling – Tracey Nicholls
- Eric Birling – David Beddard
- Gerald Croft – John Sivewright
- Edna – Verena Smith-Maurer
- Inspector Goole – Stuart Glossop
- Director – Barry Baynton
- Set Designer – Colin Pile
Patt Scott – Stour and Avon Magazine
BARRY Baynton is well-known as an accomplished actor but, in his role as director for Wimborne drama, he suggested the JB Priestley play An Inspector Calls as the autumn production. Arriving in the Tivoli Theatre it was immediately obvious that this drama would be something special as the principal players, beautifully dressed for dinner in formal attire were already on stage at an elegant dining table and chatting animatedly. The master and mistress of the house, beautiful daughter and her fiancé plus the handsome son and heir, waited on by the respectful housekeeper, all enjoying an engagement party. Into this privileged gathering came an uninvited guest bringing revelations which would shake the family to the very core, challenging their unity, revealing weaknesses and laying bare prejudices.
As Arthur Birling, the epitome of a successful business man in 1912, Richard Neal captures the bluster and social-climbing works boss to perfection. Wife Sybil – Chrissie Neal is perfectly cast as the snobbish and hard-hearted woman – and daughter Sheila (the ideal part for Tracey Nicholls) together with son Eric make up the perfect family – but are they? Watch out for young David Beddard who plays the shallow and gauche Eric, appearing to physically sag as his sins come back to haunt him, a fine characterisation. Another recent addition to Wimborne Drama, John Sivewright also excels as husband-to-be Gerald, a man with guilty secrets. And what of the policeman who calls with news of a suicide which impacts on everyone in the group? As Inspector Goole it is impossible to use enough superlatives about Stuart Glossop, he commands the stage and is quite mesmerising. Whether questioning intently, shouting forcefully or merely looking on quizzically, this pivotal role could not have been better chosen. In fact, this is a stellar cast and one which does justice to a true classic of 20th century British theatre. Little wonder that the capacity audience – splendid to see so many young theatre-goers – gave every actor a warm ovation.
All credit to Barry Baynton for choosing such a challenging play which poses questions about values, integrity, honesty and self-satisfaction which are as relevant today as when the drama was set, prior to World War 1. It is too late now to wonder at the identity of the mysterious Inspector but you can see Wimborne Drama’s next production Present Laughter next February. Don’t miss it.
Lyn Richell – Daily Echo
THIS play, by Wimborne Drama, is about an upper-crust English family whose dinner is interrupted by a police inspector who brings news that a girl known to everyone present has dies in suspicious circumstances. It seems any or all could have a hand in her death. But who is the mysterious inspector and what can he want of them?
The cast is on stage from the opening of the doors and can be seen to be enjoying their dinner before the play starts. This talented cast kept the pace up, which helped keep the audience’s attention in a rather wordy play.
Richard Neal as Arthur Birling was perfect as the patriarch, ably supported by wife Sybil (Chrissie Neal). John Sivewright (Gerald Croft) and Verena Smith-Maurer (Edna) both put in good performances. David Beddard as Eric Birling came into his own in act two and was totally believable.
The outstanding performances of the evening came from Tracey Nicholls (Sheila Birling) and Stuart Glossop (Inspector Goole). Both of them have extremely expressive faces and neither stop acting, whether directly involved in the conversation or not.
Well done to director Barry Baynton for a superb evening.