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Year 11s experience "An Inspector Calls"

posted 21 Jan 2017, 10:56 by Michele Colt   [ updated 23 Jan 2017, 01:43 by Kingsley Academy ]
In December the English department took over 80 Y11 students to the theatre to watch a production of An Inspector Calls – a key text
on their English Literature course. Below is a review of the play by one of our Y11 students

From the moment the play started I knew that the production was going to be truly astonishing and a privilege to watch. Stephen Daldry certainly knows how to hook an audience in! Drizzling rain, sepia lighting, sound that resonated through the auditorium and into your nerves; a phenomenally creative set design that both invited and alienated: my mouth was hanging open and I was holding on to my seat - as cheesy as this may sound. My appetite had well and truly been whetted; anticipation had given way to fulfilment. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. 

It did not disappoint. Daldry has cleverly made the play his ‘own’ but has still managed to both retain and convey Priestley’s original ideas. This Inspector Calls is certainly one old JB would approve of, even given his rather didactic stage directions in the original text. The creativity of the production, the use of pyrotechnics and other special effects called to mind one of the Inspector’s most famous lines in the play: “And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.” Daldry, it seems, has used this idea as the key motif in his production and, without giving anything away, fire and anguish are central to the standout moment in the play when every member of the audience is left gasping in shock and aesthetic overload.

There are other good moments in the play too. For me, one of the best is when Hamish Riddle, playing the role of the “squiffy” Eric Birling, begins to lose himself in intoxicated laughter. Even those who tried to keep a straight face dropped the occasional giggle and snort here and there. The other funny moment – and there are, surprisingly, many laughs for such a serious play - is when Diana Payne-Myers, playing Edna the maid, stands at the back of the stage doing nothing, looking around, pretending to make tea and shaking her head in disapproval and frustration as the drama before her unfolds. A special mention here for Payne-Myers who has played this role of Edna on a number of occasions during the production’s long and illustrious run (she had previously played Edna at the Garrick Theatre, the Aldwych Theatre, during the two UK tours & the Australia tour).

The only thing that dampened things a bit for me was that my friend Arantsha and I had drawn the short straw and ended up with a restricted view to the very right of the theatre, meaning we had to crane our necks to get a proper look at the stage; much to the dismay of the small girls sitting behind us whose views we obstructed. But considering that there were 92 of us there in total – including two Y13 students and one Y9 student – this was a minor complaint.

Outside the theatre, my friends and I could not stop laughing, after managing to keep it all from erupting inside the Playhouse, at Edna’s antics on stage. Over all, it was relaxing to get a little time away from lessons and coursework and enjoy high culture, especially as it added to our learning of a key exam text. It helped to widen both my cultural and academic capital and the majority of the 83 Year 11 students that attended this trip, if not all, would agree that this was one of the most entertaining trips ever!

OCEAN P and [sic] team