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November 01, 2006

An Inspector Calls

What to expect? A scene of an upper middle class family at dinner, social niceties all round – a dull evening of Edwardian chat? Far from it – the recent Pirton Players' production of J.B. Priestley's play, An Inspector Calls, was to literally send shivers down my spine in its portrayal of a family beset by hypocrisy, self importance and selfishness.

Michael Tackley's incisive Inspector was expert at unpicking the social fabric to reveal what lay beneath, and the family members' reaction to him was absorbing. Rosie Eccles played Sheila with a stylish maturity and her dawning awareness of her role in the fate of the 'victim', and subsequent attempts to persuade her parents, was captivating. Greg Holmes' empathic portrayal of Gerald was calm and measured and, although to be proved wrong in the end, he appeared a beacon of humanity in a crumbling household.

Peter Donovan and Lucinda Rowe played Mr and Mrs Birling, whose measures to hold onto their social status and to keep their family together became increasingly desperate and as a result were formidable in their attempts to deny the Inspector.

Dave Woodward played the wayward Eric as every parent's nightmare – spoilt but otherwise ignored; attempts at making him the scapegoat were met with sulks, drink, cross words and startling aggression – a difficult part delivered with aplomb. Last but by no means least, Stella Turner was excellent as the maid – she loaded the part with meaning and was effortlessly superior to her 'betters'.

Expertly directed and produced by Janet Eccles and her team, it was a great performance, and the twist in the tale was truly a piece of spine-tingling theatre. We look forward to the next one guys! [Review by: Sue Insull]

Director  -  Janet Tackley
Producer  -  Debbie Bassnett

Edna  -  Stella Turner
Eric Birling  -  Dave Woodward
Gerald Croft  -  Gregg Holmes
Mr Birling  -  Peter Donovan
Mrs Birling  -  Lucinda Rowe
Sheila Birling  -  Rosie Eccles
The Inspector  -  Michael Tackley

Bar Manager  -  Malcolm Brodie
Bar Manager  -  Ed Picken
Costumes  -  Valmai Guess
Costumes  -  Beth Harding
Director  -  Janet Tackley
Front of House Design  -  Ashling Turner
Hair  -  Fran Manning
Lighting  -  Peter Johnson
Lighting  -  Neville Rowe
Make-up  -  Helen Burden
Producer  -  Debbie Bassnett
Programme Design  -  Sarah Oliver
Programme Seller  -  Daniel Eccles
Programmes  -  Dave Woodward
Programmes  -  Janet Tackley
Prompt  -  Betty Turner
Publicity  -  Janet Tackley
Set Construction  -  Graham Gibbs
Set Construction  -  Dudley Gentle
Set Construction  -  Peter Johnson
Set Construction  -  Neil Shearer
Set Painting  -  Beth Harding
Set Painting  -  Susie Welch
Set Painting  -  Janet Tackley
Set Painting  -  Rosie Eccles
Set Painting  -  Liz Gentle
Set Painting  -  Ann Fausset
Sound  -  Peter Johnson
Stage Manager  -  Loretta Concannon
Tickets  -  Dave Woodward

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