inspect set

An Inspector Calls

Malvern Theatres


J.B. Priestley’s classic play is given a brilliant impetus by this creative production at Malvern resulting  significantly from the set design, the music and the context for the excellent acting.

Typically, in the past, this play has been set in an Edwardian dining room with many naturalistic features reflecting the domestic world of the wealthy and privileged classes of the period – 1912. Stephen Daltrey took that model by the ‘scruff of the neck’ and transformed it at the National Theatre back in 1992.

At the outset we are looking into a family celebrating an engagement in a lavish building which we are viewing from the outside. It is elevated on precarious stilts and surrounded by dirty and chaotic streets in wartime. This presents the Birling family as smug and self-satisfied social climbers in a restricted world, out of touch with ‘the real world’ of children, workers, the poor, the grime and the bleak streets.

The Inspector brings this family out of their secure, smug, social world, and strips away their charming exterior to reveal their true characters; he brings them down to earth. He exposes the selfish greed of the capitalists, the decadent and selfish mores of the privileged class, and the social divide that it has created. This play continues to have a powerful resonance in today’s society.

The cast perform with excellence. Liam Brennan as the Inspector gives a commanding and clear performance with his Scottish accent and incisive lines – he has a significant omniscience that causes Sheila eventually to question his real nature.

Chloe Orrock initially portrays Sheila as the sweet, superficial and spoilt daughter, whose character grows into a perceptive and genuine woman of sincerity and moral clarity. Christine Kavanagh plays Mrs Birling in her arrogance and pretentiousness, later dumped from her pedestal and exposed in her insensitive egotism. Jeffer Harmer(Birling), Alasdair Buchan ( Gerald) and Ryan Saunders (Eric) complete the main cast with their strong performances.

Daltrey’s production introduces further characters around Edna, the Maid. Other regular citizens who represent the ordinary masses, including children, appear to remind us that this spoilt, privileged and social-climbing family are exploiting the masses in society which include us when the Inspector makes his final summarising speech. The lighting changes and he addresses us directly.

We are reminded of our responsibility to others and the dangers of neglecting it.  

This is a great production of a brilliant play, offering some surprising and ingenious surprises.  It is easily accessed and enjoyed by young people as well as seasoned theatregoers, which is why schools and exam boards love it so much. To 09-11-19

Tim Crow


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