An Inspector Calls @ The Oxford Playhouse

The wealthy Birling family are at home enjoying a civilised dinner party when Inspector Goole unexpectedly arrives and literally brings their world crashing down around them as he investigates the death of a young working class woman. JB Priestly’s classic thriller is brought to life in a visually stunning stage performance directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours).

The play, set after World War 1 and before World War 11, is a moral tale compelling us to examine our conscience as it transpires that the young woman died for lack of charity and compassion.

The staging is dark and gloomy, gas lights, cobblestone and rain (really it rained inside the theatre), while the family are inside an Edwardian Dolls House, beatifully sets the scene. I really liked the Dolls House, it very effectively excluded the audience and we are left looking upon the previleged lives of the Birling family. Inspector Goole arrives and starts questioning the Birlings about the young woman’s sucide. Slowly but surely the tale is unravelled, Birling sacked the young woman for being involved in a strike for more pay, the daughter had her fired from her job in a shop because she smiled, the daughter’s finace had an affair with her, the brother fell in love with her, and the mother turns her away when she applies, destitute and pregnant, for charity because she would not take money from the son (it was stolen) and has the audacity to call herself Mrs. Birling. There are a lot of twists and turns as the plot unravels, and finally the inspector departs. Birling phones the hospital and discovers there was no sucide in months, the family are all relieved, it was a hoax after all. Then, the phone rings, a young woman has just committed sucide and an inspector is on the way to question them. Who visited them, the Angel of Doom, perhaps. Anyway the house comes crashing down, a symbol of the family’s corrupt morals.

The play was so good, I didn’t even notice that we had no interval.

And the moral of the story, we are all responsible for each other.

I highly recommend the play, if you haven’t seen it yet, then don’t wait, it’s stunning.

Oxford Playhouse
11 – 12 Beaumont Street