How has your reading of J.B Priestley’s “ An Inspector Calls” been enhanced by Stephen Daldry’s production at the Garrick Theatre?

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How has your reading of J.B Priestley’s “ An Inspector Calls” been enhanced by Stephen Daldry’s production at the Garrick Theatre?

Written by Sarah Keeling 10p

Year 10 has been to see “ An Inspector Calls” at the Garrick Theatre in London on the 28th September. In year 9, the year all read the play script at school and now we have been asked to compare the production and play script. John Boynton Priestley wrote the play script in 1945 but set the script in 1912, the pre World War 1 period. Daldry’s production although very different still produced the same message that Priestley wrote about; in society, everyone should be treated as one another. Daldry also thought that Priestley's message was still relevant, for today, because the play is being seen still, and for the past 9 years. Margaret Thatcher spoke on 31st October 1987 “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.” This is the reason why Daldry thought it would be relevant to today as she talks of no society.

In the script the only visual guide to the set is at the beginning of Act 1, where the play script describes the Birling family and the house. The house and dining room are realistic Edwardian. The play script only describes the inside of the house and not the outside or what surrounds it, because in the play script they never go outside so there is no need for knowledge of the outside. The whole story line is set inside the house in the play script. The only room they have is the dining room: “Substantial and heavily comfortable” It is seen as a wealthy house and very elegant. The house contains “good solid furniture” which also means it is a wealthy house, and symbolises the family is stable and is happy with the way they are going.

In contrast, the production situates a house and a very small distant house. The Birling’s house is displayed high up from the street with a cobbled pavement breaking up around the house. The way it is high up from the street seems as if they are higher up in society and when the house is opened they are unprotected by the house. The set is symbolic and is a character in the play because it changes. The house has it’s own personality that it changes and it is a display of the Birling’s stability in society. This does enhance the play script more because the play script has no set; the production has literally added another character to explain the Birlings’ fall in society. In the play the audience and the Inspector peers into the Birling’s lives and Stephen Daldry has shown this by the house being prised open like a doll’s house. The main objects in the dining room are a large grandfather clock at the rear, the table and many pictures, which creates an atmosphere of cosiness. Up in the attic, there are “floppy” teddy bears that sit looking over them. The set is most important in the play because it is a visual aid to the story and the play script doesn’t have pictures or any visual aids about the set. This may be good, because then you are left to decide how you want the house to look like. At the beginning of the production the set is only the curtain and a wooden floor. There is a wireless at the side amongst a pile of rubble. A little section of the floor then opens up and three children come out. The children are not in the same period of time as the Birling family. This makes the audience think about why the children are there and how are they from a different period of time. The youngest boy hits the wireless and the curtain opens up. The audience may seem confused about the opening set but it unfolds to explain itself. It is mysterious due there is smoke and rain. The children come from the age of World War 2; it is as if they are looking back in time to see what society did to end up in war. The production had no interval, although there are three acts. This is so the actors can build up an atmosphere of tension or emotion and it won’t be broken by the interval.

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During the production when all the rowing is going on, the house collapses and the plates fly off the table and smash next to the Birlings who are sitting on the curb. This is a great surprise in the production that was not in the play script. It improves your knowledge and understanding of the characters feelings. This is a cathartic moment where the house symbolises how the Birlings feel, as if their whole world is falling apart. Their cosy home is no longer there to protect them from the real world. When they hear that there is no girl ...

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