An Inspector Calls At Theatre Royal, Glasgow Review


Reviewed by Deborah Mackenzie

“Winner of 19 major awards and hailed as the theatrical event of its generation, An Inspector Calls has thrilled more than 5 million theatregoers worldwide.”

My daughter who accompanied me had studied it for GCSE’s and spoke highly of the meaning behind the writings, a criticism of ‘us and them’ in Victorian and Edwardian society. However, this story is timeless and as it unfolds I understood how we need to be more vigilant of our words and actions.

When the curtain opened the brilliant design of the set by Ian MacNeil; rain was falling (literally) and children played in the puddles, enhanced the eerie setting of smoke, gloom and a house on stilts. I did giggle at the door of the house that they emerged from as it was too small, and they had to bend to exit and enter.

It is a story about an affluent family, the Birlings, Arthur, his wife Sybil and young son Eric, who are celebrating their daughter Sheila’s engagement to a rival magnate’s son, Gerald Croft. After dinner, Arthur is bestowing his knowledge on self-importance and looking after one’s own; talking of a bright future that awaits them, including his future of being on the next honours list. Sybil and Sheila leave the men to talk and retire to the drawing room.

They are interrupted by the arrival of a man called ‘Inspector Goole’, who is investigating the death by suicide of a young woman called Eva Smith. Inspector Goole (Liam Brennan) stood tall and foreboding, dressed impeccable in coat, suit and hat. The story is like an onion with many layers, the inspector removed his coat, jacket and rolled up his sleeves as he got closer to the truth.

At first, they are perplexed as to what it has to do with them; where the inspectors tell them that the Birling family are mentioned in her diary. Goole produces a photograph asking Arthur if he knew the young lady; he agrees saying she was employed in his factory and caused trouble by initiating a strike action. Arthur denies responsibility for her death, even though he had known her.

Sheila is sent by her mother to bring the men through to the drawing room; she is surprised by the visitor. Goole shows her the photograph, and she admits that she knew of Eva, and how her actions had caused her to lose her job.

When Sybil comes through to find out where the others are. Goole mentions that Eva changed her name to Daisy Renton; Gerald is startled and admits he know of a woman by that name. His story of their relationship pours out, causing Sheila to break her engagement. He leaves to go for a walk.

Goole turns to Sybil, saying that he knows that she heads a charity committee that help woman in difficult situations and that a young woman who was pregnant and destitute appealed for help. Sybil convinced the committee to reject her application. But Sybil stands by her decision and accepts no blame; and it was the man who put her into this predicament who is to blame.

Eric enters, and only after a very brief questioning from Goole, he breaks down and admits responsibility for the pregnancy after raping Eva after a drinking spree. After finding out Eva was pregnant, he stole money from his father, who was outraged as he heard this, to pay Eva but she refuses to accept stolen money. The evening continues in everyone talking at once and blaming each other.

Goole had revealed each person present that evening had played a part in Eva’s suicide.
The inspector shows them how every action/decision has a reaction, how they don’t see the end results and that people are intertwined in society.

Even though this was written in 1947 it is still very relevant today; everyone is attached by a ‘silver thread’ and how we treat those around us takes a much bigger picture of the outcome of lives.

Rating this: 4.5/5

Live at Theatre Royal Glasgow Tue 23 May – Sat 27 May 2023

Tickets available from £13.00
subject to a transaction fee of £2.85

1 hour 50 minutes with no interval

Buy Tickets at:

Show More
Back to top button