LESS is definitely more in Tread the Boards theatre company’s latest production, An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley.
As with all of the productions at The Attic Theatre at The Lazy Cow, Bridgefoot, Stratford, there is always the challenge of the space. Yet this company has not only mastered the art of bringing versatility to its approach in staging, but also addresses how to engage with the audience without gimmicks.
Director Andy Woolley has stripped his production to the bare minimum, giving the actors the opportunity to really discover their characters and shine.
Set against a backdrop of just a golden sofa and chair, alongside a drinks trolley, this design allows the audience to focus on what is really important – the wonderfully constructed script.
It is common knowledge that this thriller questions morality and leaves its characters having to take responsibility for their actions. And, despite the original, first performed in 1945, being set in 1912, the message behind this classic three-act drama is still relevant today. You can’t help going away considering the impact one’s actions have on others both then and now. Your conscience is pricked.
The director has carefully constructed his production to give the impression each member of this middle-class family is brought to the dock to give evidence on their involvement in a young girl’s suicide.
Woolley admits that he is blessed “with a great cast and crew” and a few line fumbles aside on the opening weekend (no prompt needed), each gives a near-perfect performance.
Andrew Bayliss offers a wonderfully sanctimonious head of the house as Mr Birling, with Juliet Grundy a haughty side-kick as his wife, Sybil.
John-Robert Partridge is a determined Inspector Goole, passionately bringing the moral message of social responsibility to the stage and Catherine Prout a worldly-wise yet impulsive daughter, Sheila.
James Tanton (Gerald Croft) Richard Lee O’Donnell (Eric Birling) and Clare Sykes/Marion Braddish (sharing the role of Edna) complete the strong cast.
Adding to this, despite a “quiet” audience on Sunday, no stone was left unturned to bring out the humour of this piece.
An Inspector Calls runs at The Attic Theatre until Sunday 22nd September. For tickets and performance times contact the box office on 07952 819557.
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