EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
The following are excerpts from the September 14, 2016 MD Theatre Guide Review of An Inspector Calls By April Forrer
Everyman Theatre does not disappoint with their 25th season opener, An Inspector Calls, written by J.B. Priestley and directed by Noah Himmelstein. Inspector is not a traditional “who-done-it.” The play blends together all of the elements of an established detective story: a death, a small group of suspects in an unusually opulent setting, and a domineering law enforcement officer who always seems to know more than the accused. Inspector does have these characteristics in abundance, but there is so much more.
Of course, I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell the basics. It’s a spring evening in 1912, and the Birling family is in their grand dining room celebrating the engagement of their daughter, Sheila, to Gerald Croft, a well-established man in their community. In the opening scene, all seem happy and without worry.
…Everyman pulls out all the nuances of the script, making this production an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter.
The cheerful and carefree feeling is quickly dashed when Inspector Goole comes calling with news that an impoverished young working girl named Eva Smith has committed suicide, and it is Goole’s desire that the Birlings help him find out why. As the evening continues, and as Goole pushes each member of the family and Croft to reveal how everyone in that room has crossed into Eva Smith’s life, the well constructed facade begins to crumble. There is even much more than that, however, and this is where Everyman pulls out all the nuances of the script, making this production an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter.
This is a first rate cast, each doing their part to build mystery and suspense. The head of the Birling family is Arthur Birling, played by resident company member Bruce Randolph Nelson. Arthur is a prideful man. He is happy that his daughter is getting married, but a bit more so that she is marrying the wealthy Gerald Croft (a handsome Jamison Foreman). Arthur believes Gerald’s addition to the family will elevate him further in the society that, despite his wealth, has not quite embraced him. Nelson is terrific as Arthur, and he is very effective shifting from fill-the-room confidence in his worthiness of his place in higher society to a quieter, questioning man.
The entire cast pulls together for a fabulous show, but the set, lighting, sound and costumes are important characters on their own. The set design is by Timothy R. Mackabee, and the solid dining table is surrounded by a large Victorian print in a rich deep red that covers floor-to-ceiling mirrors (which have much to do with the conclusion of the play). The lighting (Jay A. Herzog) and sound (Elisheba Ittoop) blend well to create all of the perfect moods needed.
The costumes, designed by David Burdick, represent “The Age of Opulence,” from the sparkling black gems sewn into the lace blouse of Sybil Birling to the delicate white embroidered lace on Sheila Birling’s skirt. Beautiful.