Highly Recommended***** If you are a mystery buff, then you MUST mark your reservations as soon as possible to attend Remy Bumppo’s masterful production of J.B. Priestley’s, “An Inspector Calls” at The Greenhouse Theater Center on Lincoln Avenue. Directed to sheer perfection by David Darlow on a divine set(Alan Donahue), this thriller ( the likes of Agatha Christie, only better) twists and turns throughout the two acts ( 2 hours and 15 minutes with an intermission) and many audience members will walk away with a different view of what they just were witness to. That is what makes this such a special theatrical experience.
Priestley wrote this charmer after World War I was just ended in hope of having the populace be aware of the need for change in the social change that our world powers needed. The play takes place in 1912 ( a 100 years have passed and it appears social change is still not “fixed”), in an upper middle class English home as a family is celebrating the engagement of their daughter to a socialite who is also their business rival’s son. Could there be a few mergers on the horizon?
All seems happy and delightful as a wonderful dinner has been devoured and drinks are being enjoyed when a bell rings and the maid announces a visit from the Inspector, one Inspector Goole ( played to sheer perfection by Chicago favorite Nick Sandys) who has come to investigate a “suicide”- a young lady, that it appears was very well connected to each and every person at this particular dinner party.
As the Inspector begins to interrogate each of the dinner guests/family members, we find that in some way, each and every person had some type of connection to this young lady. Not wanting to spoil the mystery and the twists and turns in the plot and the stories that each are involved with, so I will tell you that it goes around and around as to what each did that may have caused this young lady to take her life.
There are many dark secrets that come out, some that change the course of the evening for all of the family members. As the story progresses we learn a great deal about the upper crust of society and how they blame others for the errors of their own lives. the family is composed of some powerful actors:
Roderick Peeples as the head of the family, Arthur Birling, his wife, Sybil is deftly handled by the glamorous Lia Mortensen, their daughter, Sheila is played with just the right touch by Isabel Ellison, their son, Eric by Luke Daigle and Sheila’s fiancee, Gerald by the powerful Greg Matthew Anderson. The other character in this drawing room mystery is Edna, the maid played by Maggie McCally.
As we learn how each of the characters had a part in the life changing for this suicide victim, we learn a great deal about each one and as the story unveils it is Sheila who opens the many doors for the Inspector as he gets each and every one of the characters ( except Edna) to confess to their”crime” or “sin” involving this mystery lady.
As the play further unfolds, we start to see some questioning on the part of our characters, and again, not wanting to spoil the wonderful way the story goes, I will not divulge any more than to tell you that all is not as it seems to be and this cast and the director keep us on the edge of our seats from start to finish. There are some great effects, very stylish utilized by darlow in this piece. When each cast member describes their involvement with this woman, the lights dim and music flows- enchanting and certainly a way of drawing our interest to the words being said. I loved it!
The tech part of the play is also one of the best I have seen, even for this troupe which for the most part is one of the better companies. In addition to the fantastic set, we have lighting(Michael Rourke), Emily Waecker’s wonderful costumes ( very stylish and period) and sound ( Josh Horvath) and Jesse Gaffney’s outstanding props. Every aspect of this production makes it a “TO BE SEEN” for this season. It will continue at The Greenhouse Theater Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue ( upstairs theater) through January 12th with performances as follows:
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Wednesdays, December 18th and January 8th at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $37.50 and are available at the box office, by phone at 773-404-7336 or online at www.remybumppo,org
Students are $15 for all performances except “Between The Lines”
Parking is available on the street and 1/2 block north at the former Children’s memorial Hospital garage- 100 free spaces available- first come first served.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “An Inspector Calls”