English dramatist J.B. Priestley’s famous thriller An Inspector Calls is an MADC production that features a number of the island’s top performers at the Blue Box Theatre in Msida .
As one of Priestley’s best-known plays, An Inspector Calls has been hailed a classic of mid-20th-century English theatre.
Since its first performance in 1946 in the UK, the play has epitomised classic ‘drawing room’ theatre and became a key part of the British school curriculum for its scathing criticism of the hypocrisies of Victorian and Edwardian English society.
At the helm of the production is director Michael Mangion, who first watched the piece in London a few years ago.
Mr Mangion explains that the text of the play is set in the dining room of the Birling family and that Priestley gives very detailed stage directions as to how the characters should move around.
“He, of course, wrote this for a proscenium-style theatre. So, in moving this to the Blue Box Theatre – which has an audience on three sides – I have made some significant changes in order to fit the play to this space and still make it visually interesting.
“In fact, I have moved the play to the drawing room and kept the set minimal, which frees up the actors to move around more. I have also added some dramatic elements that are not in the script, so as to connect the audience more directly to the playwright’s underlying message.”
That message centres on Priestley’s tumultuous wartime debate about British society, which was still divided along class lines when the play was written in the 1940s.
In the piece, he sets out to reveal the hypocrisy that permeates Victorian and Edwardian society, while following the unexpected visit of the mysterious inspector to the upper middle-class family, after the suicide of a working-class woman.
Bringing the play to life are Edward Thorpe as Arthur Birling, Isabel Warrington as Sybil Birling, Roberta Cefai as Sheila Birling, Edward Caruana Galizia as Eric Birling, Gianni Selvaggi as Gerald Croft, Samantha Gauci as Edna and John Marinelli as Inspector Goole.
“I have really enjoyed watching it come together in terms of the look and feel of the production,” says Mr Mangion.
“It has been fantastic to see the actors’ performances progress and to watch how they have each embraced their characters and brought their own individual journeys to the play. I believe it is now a well-coordinated and thrilling production.
Its message is still so strongly relevant
“It is noteworthy to see how, despite this being a period play, its message is still so strongly relevant to our present time,” he adds.
An Inspector Calls will be performed at Blue Box Theatre – M Space, Msida – opposite Junior College tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, and on March 22, 23 and 24, with all performances starting at 7.30pm.
Tickets are available online at www.bluebox.com.mt or by calling the ticket hotline on +356 7979 3737. It is recommended that audience members are aged 12 and over.