This mystery thriller takes place on a single night in 1912, in the Yorkshire mill town of Brumley.
It focuses on the prosperous middle-class Birling family, who are interrogated in their dining room by Inspector Goole about the death of a young working-class woman, Eva Smith. The family is accused of being involved in the woman's downfall and social ruin.
The play has been hailed as a scathing critique of the hypocrisies of Victorian/Edwardian English society. With just seven characters, there is time for each cast member to shine and all of them turned in outstanding performances for us.
David Moore (Arthur Birling) was perfectly posh; Davina Roper (Sybil Birling) was superbly snobbish; Jordan Peterson (Sheila Birling) had fabulous facial expressions; Shay Wildgoose (Eric Birling) captured brilliantly the young drinking man; Gerald Croft (Benjamin Crellin) was admirably aloof; Olivia Whyte (Edna) was suitably subservient (great accent) and Rob Dallas (Inspector Goole) was a masterful interrogator.
Trevor Rose has designed an elegant set with a few key pieces (I adore the sideboard and telephone), so the characters have ample room to move and the main focus is on the dining table. I love the crystal glasses and highly polished tea set.
The costumes are elegant and beautifully in keeping with the era. One must, of course, remember to always flick out one's coat-tails before taking a seat - sometimes one forgets, although interrogation must be nerve-wracking.
The lighting was used to great effect. At one point a spotlight shifts the audience's eyes to just two characters at front of stage, allowing a surprise to suddenly be revealed when the wall lights go back on. Magnificent.
The cast's enunciation and delivery were spot on, although in the opening few minutes some voices were lost as they were directed to the back of the stage. That quickly improved as the cast moved around the stage.
Coffee, tea and cake were served during the interval and it was lovely to see the kitchen staff enjoying the play as well.
Napier Repertory Players should be proud: they are breathing new life into an old play and the result is a polished performance with a delightfully unexpected ending. Pop this one on your must-see list.
An Inspector Calls:
* What: Mystery thriller
* Where: Little Theatre, McGrath St, Napier.
* When: From tonight until Sunday (all Art Deco Weekend performances have sold out); Wednesday, February 24 until Sunday, February 28 (matinee performance); Thursday, March 3 to Saturday, March 5.
* Bookings: Napier Municipal Theatre, phone (06) 835 1059.