Saturday, May 05, 2007

Al Ain Theatre Society does it again!

Al Ain Theatre Society
An Inspector Calls
J.B. Priestley
Al Multaqa Auditorium
May 3 2007

Set in a millowner’s home in 1912 and watched over by portraits of Queen Victoria and Edward VII, Priestley’s moralistic tale of the alleged, imperious neglect, high handed philanthropy and reckless treatment of a young woman by the members of the property owning class of the day, An Inspector Calls was as well performed tonight as it probably ever has been.

Inspector Goole (Mel Tyers) interrupted celebrations in the Birling household, enraging the arrogant millowner, Birling, (Keith Wiggle) toasting the engagement of his daughter Sheila (Libby Stack) to Gerald Croft (Ben McGrath), watched by his wife (Carol Boardman) and by the flippant waster of a son, Eric (Rick Johns), Edna (Caroline White-Goettsche) attending to the family and their guest.

Jeff Weiss directed this great performance, marshalling a somewhat unassuming, but not deferential inspector into the midst of the evening after Arthur Birling had toasted an amalgamation of two great families in the midlands town of Brumley.

Once Goole turned up the heat with the revelation that a lass had burned out her insides with disinfectant and died in a local hospital, the guilty party crackled apart like so much popcorn in a pan.

In a tour de force impersonation of arrogance and selfish indifference, Keith Wiggle as Birling, did his level best to dismiss Goole from the evening’s joviality.

Goole, however, persisted magnificently, peeling off the onion-like layers of guilt and implication perpetrated by each one present.

Sheila’s culpability came after her father’s, and her fiancé fared little better with the news to all that he had had an affair with the girl sometime earlier, using her and dismissing her as it suited him.

A sort of telescopic philanthropy had been denied the girl in her hour of need by Sybil (Carol Boardman), throwing the girl further into dismay and ruin.

Eric, by now, well in his cups, told all that he had dallied with the girl, though her name had changed again as each tale unfolded. Constantly berated by his father, Eric stood up to the awful indifference to the girl’s fate in the face of Birling’s altogether more selfish reaction to the news of her suicide.
The news that the girl had also been pregnant was the icing on a very distasteful cake. Goole left and the party reflected.

In a brand of wishful thinking, they soon reached the same conclusion; that Goole was not a real policeman, confirmed by a phone call, and that the girl in each case was a different individual.

Another phone call confirmed that no such suicide had occurred. Birling and his wife breathed a sigh of relief, audible and hypocritical, while Eric and Sheila could not forgive themselves so easily.

The final hammer blow came as another caller announced that a girl had just been admitted to the hospital, and had died of poisoning.

Priestley’s play, though perhaps too heavy handed to have been written today, did highlight the fact that we are all ultimately responsible for each other.
Robert L. Fielding


At 10:48 PM , Blogger JR said...

Sorry I was not able to see this. Got my dates all wrong!!So Happy it turned out to be a success. What's next?

JR, Doha


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