A gripping self-contained tale!
© BBC/Drama Republic
I was initially a little dubious about the BBC’s adaptation of JB Priestley’s famous play An Inspector Calls – which is released on DVD today. Rarely does a play adapt well for TV. The play itself have dipped in and out of favour over the decades but has remained a favourite on the GCSE syllabus. That being said, I confess I have never read or seen the play before so my review is based solely on the Helen Edmunson’s TV interpretation and my own research regarding the original play.
Set in 1912, over a single night, the wealthy Birling family, headed by Arthur and his wife Sybil (played by Ken Stott and Miranda Richardson), are sitting down to dinner to celebrate the engagement of their daughter (Chloe Pirrie) when they receive an unexpected visitor from an Inspector Goole (played with a determined subtlety by Harry Potter‘s David Thewlis), who has come to question them about the suicide of a local young woman.
It soon becomes apparent, Inspector Goole is not your usual Inspector, as he carefully but forcibly interrogates each family member to reveal their part in contributing to the woman’s hardships that led to her death. As each family member unravels; each revealing themselves to be just as abhorrent as the last, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for them as they lament in their dining room. Most of the dialogue is delivered in a similar manner to the original play set mainly in the one room, giving it an intimate feel, with a few flashbacks taking us outside enough to not make it too claustrophobic.
© BBC/Drama Republic
The BBC has had some harsh criticism lately with the new proposed changes, but An Inspector Calls shows exactly what the channel is renowned for: A unique, well-paced and filmed, quality British drama. The 90-minute drama put paid to my initial reticence, I found it gripping throughout, with a great cast who perfectly play the shamed family. There’s no doubt that the drama is a scathing commentary on the class-obsessed society of the day.
An Inspector Calls is not your average thriller, with an element of fantasy about it that I can’t really explain without revealing the ending – suffice to say, it’s ambiguous enough to keep the audience guessing, but satisfyingly enough to feel the pompous and callous family’s views are sufficiently changed.
DVD extras include ‘An Inspector Calls – An Introduction’ and ‘The Enduring Power of An Inspector Calls’.
An Inspector Calls is released on 21st September 2015.
Watch the trailer below…