REVIEW: Radical production of classic thriller An Inspector Calls opens at Buxton Opera House
One of the most eagerly anticipated productions at Buxton Opera House this year - An Inspector Calls - opened with aplomb on Tuesday.
Stephen Daldry’s multi award-winning production of JB Priestley’s classic thriller - hailed as "the theatrical event of its generation" returns to the Buxton stage after a sell out West End season and US tour.
It has been described as a "visionary" and "radical" production that really challenges and forces the audience to question their own behaviours and attitudes.
And as the curtain is raised on the fictional north Midlands town of "Brumley" and with regular references to the "Palace" it's not difficult to imagine that all four physical and metaphorical walls of the theatre have come crashing down and placed us all firmly under the magnifying glass.
We're in the experienced hands of classical actor Liam Brennan as the inspector who delivers a finely-tuned and self-assured performance. Jeffery Harmer - who incidentally played Prince Andrew in Diana: Her True Story is Mr Birling; TV and film regular Charlotte Kavanagh plays Mrs Birling; Alisdair Buchan - known for playing a Slytherin Bully in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - is Gerald Croft and Chloe Orrock plays Sheila Birling.
The character portrayal is near faultless in this well oiled theatrical machine with strong performances delivered by the cast worthy of any stage in the land. Their performances are enhanced by ingenious set design and stage effects which startle and amazed the Opera House audience.
At its core, An Inspector Calls is a parable-like play that scrutinises some of our most destructive and troubling behaviours.
However, to consider its study of social responsibility, age, gender and class as a balanced view that can be applied as general social conundrums to the current political parties in the UK would be wrong. If anything, politically, it is written to promote Priestley's socialist ideals.
Although its wider idealistic points around being more considerate of your fellow man appeal to the better nature of us all.
If you're after something that really questions your way of thinking about the world then this is the play to see. And based on Tuesday night's performance you won't see a finer portrayal of it.
Pictures by: Tristram Kenton.