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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Boundary Players - An Inspector Calls

16th to 20th October 2007.

This was the NWN review.

Passed inspection

Boundary Players: An Inspector Calls, at William Penney Theatre, Tadley from October 16 to 20

It's 1912, and the prosperous Birling family have enjoyed a celebratory dinner to mark the engagement of their daughter Sheila to local industrialist Gerald Croft. As they sit around the table congratulating themselves on their success in life, a mysterious police inspector calls, following up inquiries into the suicide of a young woman. He begins to ask each of them about their knowledge of the deceased and, despite their initial denial, the family members implicate themselves one by one in the victim's demise.

J B Priestley's celebrated analysis of personal responsibility and hypocrisy is as relevant today as when it was first performed. With a strong production team, led by producers Andy and Julie Abbott and stage manager Colin Webb, Boundary Players' performance certainly captured the Edwardian atmosphere, from sepia cast photos in the entrance hall to the impressively-appointed dining-room set and formal costumes (though Sheila's outfit didn't seem quite in keeping with the period).

The cast were well drilled by directors Steve Schollar and Michele Middleditch, and the play moved along at a good pace, particularly in the second half.

Chris Nunn, as Inspector Goole, gave a commanding and very confident performance, capturing the mysterious character of the detective with skill (though his hand gestures were a little off-putting at times). Martin John was very strong and convincing as the bullish Mr Birling and Sue Barham played the part of his wife with impressive haughtiness. Gavin Crow was suave and amiable as Gerald Croft, and Jen Southern, as daughter Sheila, was well cast, but a little too hysterical at times. Richard Mier gave a good, understated performance as the disaffected and hard-drinking son Eric, while Davina Harris rounded off the cast as the maid Edna.

A good performance all round and a timely reminder from Priestley that society has to take more care of those most in need of kindness and support.