Review: An Inspector Calls is The Octagon's first play after a £580,000 refurbishment (From This Is Lancashire)
Review: An Inspector Calls is The Octagon's first play after a £580,000 refurbishment
After a summer makeover, the glistening Octagon theatre reopened its doors to a new season that promises to be unmissable.
So there was great pressure on the cast and crew charged with starting the season in fine fettle with JB Priestley's classic An Inspector Calls, directed by David Thacker.
The story is special to me: I studied it as a 15 year old at St James's C of E High School in Farnworth and it set me on a path towards learning about the importance of standing up for the little guy - unsurprising that I ended up in local journalism.
For the uninitiated the story is simple: In 1912, a family headed by ambitious factory owner Arthur (played by Brian Protheroe) is celebrating an engagement and, as Birling says later: "We were all feeling quite pleased with ourselves."
Then an inspector calls with a long list of rather uncomfortable questions for Birling, his wife Sybil (Margot Leicester), their son Eric (Mawgan Gyles), their daughter Sheila (Rosie Jones) and Sheila's fiancé Gerald Croft (Kieran Hill).
The inspector (David Prosho) was superb.
It is all too easy for scripts to be too cluttered with dialogue, whereas Prosho kept it simple and let the suspense fill the room.
What this talented cast pulled off was a perfect sequence - Protheroe setting things up with his excellent portrayal of the ever-preaching Arthur, Prosho hitting him with home truths galore and, finally, Gyles displaying the despair of injustice, hindsight and what it is like to be taught a cruel lesson.
Throughout the play, there were no lags or dull bits as the plot was simply gripping.
My only criticism is - what is the need for Arthur to smoke a cigar?
As a theatregoer, I do not want to breathe in something that could make me or others ill just for the sake of authenticity.
Apart from that, this choice of play - and the execution of it - is a tremendous way to begin the new season and it is my play of 2013 so far.
An Inspector Calls is on at The Octagon until October 5. Visit octagonbolton.co.uk for ticket details and more information.
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