An Inspector Calls UK Tour - Mayflower Southampton

One thing that I love about An Inspector Calls is how timeless the story is. It's one that I studied at school, and is still chosen as a GCSE text year after year. As this brilliant stage adaptation of J.B Priestley's play  by Stephen Daldry enters its 30th year, its phenomenal to see how not only the show has held up over all this time, but still shocks and entertains its audiences year after year. 

Back at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, this landmark show was ready to entertain hoards of year 11 school children and avid theatre goers alike as they embarked on just under two hours of eye opening theatre. 

For those that don't know, An Inspector Calls follows the story of an upper class family that seem to have the perfect life. The young daughter is engaged to a man of high standing, the father is set to receive a knighthood, and whilst all things seem to go to plan, the events that unfold when Inspector Goole turns up turns the family on their heads. It's a show that tells us that everyone seemingly has secrets that can ruin them when exposed, whilst also highlighting class and gender divisions, and showing us that even the smallest act can have devastating consequences. It's a story that feels all too true in this current day and age as what it did when it was originally released in 1945. 

Liam Brennan has continued in the role of the pivotal Inspector Goole, and honestly he embodies the mystery and inquisitive nature of the role. He instructs, directs, and commands the stage and theatre as he interrogates each and every family member. Jeffrey Harmer and Christine Kavanagh portrayed the roles of Arthur and Sybil Birling. The heads of the family who's selfishness, spite and own personal greed lead to both the beginning and end of the interrogations, seemingly only caring about how their actions reflect badly on them rather than hurt those around them. Both Harmer and Kavanagh's performances were incredible and they truly embodied these characters. 

My stand out performances had to be from both Evlyne Oyedokun and George Rowlands as Sheila and Eric Birling. Both played the roles with such tenacity and energy that it felt like new life had been injected into the show. Evlyne's moral and emotional journey as Sheila was brilliant and I loved seeing how the puzzle pieces started slotting together in her head as she paced the stage. Whilst George's performance as Eric was emotional and empathetic. You could really feel for him and see that he truly felt remorse and sorrow for his part in the interrogation. The fight scene towards the end of the show truly showed versatility and strength in both his performance and character. 

The set and staging of An Inspector Calls is something that is both visually stunning yet minimal, it is a complete masterpiece. With a dolls house-esque structure that teeters on stilts around a bomb site, it represents everything that the story 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.

An Inspector Calls is a show that I see impressing audiences for generations to come. For a show to captivate an audience that is filled 75% with school children night after night is somewhat of a miracle. 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 theatre 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 Theatre, Southampton until 5/11/2022 with limited tickets remaining. The show will then continue on a UK tour around the country including stops such as Birmingham, York, and Richmond. 

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