An Inspector Calls UK Tour Review - Mayflower

An Inspector Calls is a play that I remember reading whilst at school. To be fair, it's one that has graced the tables of generations of senior school students in the run up to their GCSE exams. One that seems to have stuck with me to the extent that the students at the school I currently work at are learning it too. The tale about gender, class and how actions have consequences has taken to the stage at the Mayflower, Southampton so I took a work friend and popped along to transport myself back in time.

Based on the classic thriller by JB Priestley, this show has been adapted by Stephen Daldry and won a slew of awards since the early 90's and the show is continually wowing crowds today. It's a story of morality. How a small act can have devastating effects on someone or something else, and what remorse or blame you should feel for said actions. It's as applicable and relevant today as it was when it was originally written in 1945.

With a set that was visually stunning yet minimal, it was a complete masterpiece. With a dolls house-esque structure that teeters on stilts around a bomb site, it represents everything that the show is all about. You see the juxtaposition of the decaying exterior and the lively and luxurious interior from the moment the curtain lifts. A clever way to show how true happiness can't be crammed into that small space. From the shattering effects of the family secrets, to the torn apart dynamics at the end of the play this house acts like both a comfort blanket for the Birling family, but also a stage to bare their secrets. With all these little touches you can see why this show is such a masterpiece and made me fall in love with the story all over again.

It's worth noting that whilst I attended the press night, it was also an audience mostly filled with school students. I was apprehensive to see how they would respond to a body of work that they had been studying, but you could feel the tension and energy buzzing in the room. And to have the power to captivate a room full of teens that are being told to study a play as opposed to sitting on Snapchat is no mean feat. But Daldry's adaptation hit the nail on the head.

Liam Brennan took to the stage as the mysterious Inspector Goole and literally worked his way around the room as he interrogated each and every Birling family member, slowly revealing their secrets and exposing the hypocrisy and classist natures until their house crumbles around them. I was blown away by Christine Kavanagh and Chloe Orrock who played Mrs Birling and Shiela Birling, both showing layers and levels to their characters that I've never seen on stage or screen before. It was a pure masterpiece and a show that had me sat on the edge of my seat throughout.

As the cast took their final bows, you could feel the buzz in the room. You could see how entranced the students surrounding us were, and we left feeling inspired and ready to take on another day in the classroom. Whether you are a student, a teacher or someone that loves a thriller, this show will leave you gripped from the first crackle of the sound system to the final bow. A pure masterpiece of showmanship that can only be described as perfection and just as relevant now as it was all those years ago.

An Inspector Calls is on at the Mayflower, Southampton before continuing on its UK tour. Prices start from £19.50 and the show runs until the 21st September.

*Note: I was gifted tickets to the show. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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