Review of the Royal National Theatre Production of “an Inspector Calls”
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Review of the Royal National Theatre Production of "An Inspector Calls" The year is 1912. The Birlings are celebrating the engagement of their daughter, Sheila, when an Inspector Goole rudely interrupts them. The inspector goes through the characters one by one and interrogates them about the suicide of a young woman, named Eva Smith. When the realisation of how each of them supposedly has had a part to play in the death of the woman hits the Birlings, some of the characters immediately reform, some are disturbed and some are not affected at all. But a few minutes after the inspector has left, they discover that he was not in fact a real police inspector. Before I saw the play, I was expecting the whole stage to be taken up by a brightly lit dining room. I thought there would be one or two doors leading into the room. I was expecting the inspector to be a very tall man, with a long black coat and a black hat so that you could not see his face. When the lights began to dim in the theatre, three children, dressed from the period of 1945 emerged from a trap door in the stage. As the play went on it become apparent that these children were definitely from another time period. It seemed that the trap door was their doorway from the future to the past. The idea that they came from below, maybe a sewer, immediately put them down below the Birlings. The music for the opening started off with war sirens to accompany the children dressed in 1945 clothing. After the sirens, came a very dramatic string melody. It seemed over dramatic for the opening, but just made the scene, after the curtain opened, more eerie and dramatic. When the curtain rose, it opened onto a street scene. On the right-hand side of the stage the Birlings' house stood.
When she first comes down onto the street, she is very self-confident. All through her interrogation, she denies all responsibility, "If necessary I shall be glad to answer any questions the Inspector wishes to ask me." Sheila tries her hardest to shield her mother from the Inspector's clever questions and the loss of pride that she is about to receive, "you mustn't try to build up a kind of wall between us and that girl. If you do, then the Inspector will just break it down. And it'll be all the worse when he does." Mrs Birling refuses to listen to Sheila's warnings and is brought down like the rest of them. In some ways, Mrs Birling's conviction is the worst out of all of them because. This is because she is so high and mighty and is brought down with a crash when she finds out that her 'perfect' son was the disgusting awful man who made Eva Smith become pregnant. All throughout the play, Eric has been picked on and finally it comes out what he did to help kill Eva Smith. Eric is the last to be interrogated, and in my opinion, in the Royal National Theatre Production, his interrogation was the most dramatic. This was because he accuses Birling of not being a good father, "Because you're not the type of father a chap could go to when he's in trouble." We come to feel sorry for Eric because not only has he been accused or stealing and making an unknown girl pregnant, his heavy drinking has been brought to the attention of his mother. The characters all go on fighting and accusing Eric, when suddenly Eric throws the decanter that is holding, what looked like whiskey, onto the ground and it smashes. He then grabs his mother's neck and starts to try to strangle her. He is angry with his mother for two reasons.
However, close study of the play helps our understanding of the director's thinking here. The stage setting is supposed to remind the audience of what is still to come with wars. The meaning of "An Inspector Calls" is reflected in a passage written by John Donne in the seventeen hundreds, 'No man is an iland, intire of itselfe; every man is a peece of the continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the sea, Europe is the lesse. Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankinde.' This passage is talking about class, 'every man is a peece of the continent,' it is saying that all of mankind is a one. No matter what class you are, everyone is joined together. I think that even though this play was written in 1945, it still has relevance today. The relevance being to the tragic terror attacks in the United States. Although the production that we saw was produced before the attack, it is still relevant. The Twin Towers attack has caused a lot of tension between different groups of people, Islam and other religions. In this case the Eva Smiths are the innocent people who were killed in New York City, and the civilians in Afghanistan who have been used and abused by different people in power, just like Eva Smith. Another place that this play has relevance in is in the third world countries. Then people of those countries are dying and we are doing very little to help it. "An Inspector Calls" not only has an impact about the events going on all around the world, but also about what is going on everyday all around Britain in the form of the homeless. Although organisations try to help them, such as The Big Issue, the government still makes it difficult for homeless people to get back into work and get a home again. Does this mean that we, everyday normal people, are also the Birlings of today's world? Catriona Rose
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