An Inspector Calls – The Lyric Theatre at The Lowry: Review

An Inspector Calls will stick in the memory of most as that play they studied at school as part of GCSE English Literature: It has been a stalwart of the national curriculum for as long as I can remember, and must still be on their judging from the amount of young adults packing out the Lyric theatre tonight!

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Telling the tale of the Birling family who are gathered for an evening of celebration: as Shelia Birling is engaged to Gerald Croft. This union will see the merging of two rival yet successful local businesses. However the celebrations are soon cut short with the arrival of the mysterious Inspector Goole, who is investigating the suicide of a young girl. As the evening transpires it appears that everyone seated around the dinner table played some part in the demise of the young lady and Goole will stop at nothing to find the truth.

All the parts are well acted Liam Brennan is on great form as the sinister Goole bringing the required menace to the role: his presence looms ominously over the production throughout. Decked out in raincoat and trilby he certainly makes his foreboding presence felt. Equally impressive is Katherine Jack as Shelia Birling:  who begins to see the error of her ways as the story develops but also seems to have a strange fascination with Inspector Goole which adds more layers to the intriguing narrative.

There is solid support from Geoff Leesley and Caroline Wildi as Mr and Mrs Birling. Leesley makes the part his own as the bullish arrogant businessman, whilst Wildi is particularly loathsome as the unrepentant family matriarch. Matthew Douglas and Hamish Riddle are also very good in their roles as Gerald Croft and Eric Birling.

The script tackles meaty subject matter such as morality and the divide and unfairness of the class systems, and for those unfamiliar with the play it will keep you guessing right to the very end: there are also little nuggets of humour in there too.

However the main feature of the production for me was the impressive set and lighting design. From the undersized mansion through to the dimly lit street setting: it creates an eerie and intimidating setting which anchors the production and gives it gravitas.

Overall this is well worth catching and a production that will live on long in the memory for all the right reasons.

An Inspector Calls is at the Lowry till the 21st May http://www.thelowry.com/event/an-inspector-calls1

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