Remy Bumppo presents AN INSPECTOR CALLS.
This show was billed as an Agatha Christie style mystery with a twist. The only mystery to me is how AN INSPECTOR CALLS had an award-winning revival in the 1990s.
Playwright J.B. Priestley debuted his post WWII play in 1945. Having experienced active combat shared equally by classes, Priestley was disturbed by growing social inequality. He worked for reform. Although the content was undoubtedly controversial at the time, the morality shocker loses its punch in our contemporary era. Despite that, Priestley’s play had a successful revival in 1992 under the direction of Stephen Daldry. It went on to score triple honors with the 1993 Laurence Olivier Award, 1994 Drama Desk Award and 1994 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.
In this 2013 production, Priestley’s play is redundant and dull. It would be easy to leave during intermission. Most all of the reveals happen in the 1st Act onstage and in the first twenty minutes in my head. The twists are more like crimps. They are neither big puzzlers nor unexpected. Alternatively, someone could arrive just for Act 2 and get the recap of the situation… a few times. The characters explain repeatedly their personal interaction with the inspector. There isn’t any suspense. It’s more like a morality class where the teacher makes the same point over and over to ensure even the slowest among us understands it.
Director David Darlow paces the play with dramatic intention. The lights flicker dim as a character monologues a memory. The conversation flow is haughty and sluggish. The banter of these aristocrats is overly-affected and not for humor for drama. That seems the missed opportunity. Nearly seventy years later, AN INSPECTOR CALLS would be more effective as a fast and furious farce. The uncomplicated plot and the recurring explanations are primed for speed and callback jokes. Even in this current production, the British wit is teased at with the comedy timing of Nick Sandys (Inspector), Greg Matthew Anderson (Gerald) and Lia Mortensen (Sybil). Despite those chuckle-worthy moments, the talented actors can’t save this lackluster production.
Holding Remy Bumppo to the standards of excellence they have established for themselves, I can’t recommend AN INSPECTOR CALLS.
Running Time: Two hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission
At Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln
Written by J.B. Priestley
Directed by David Darlow
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2:30pm
December 18th and January 8th at 7:30pm
December 26th and January 4th at 2:30pm
Thru January 12th
Buy Tickets at www.remybumppo.org.