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Past Performances

An Inspector Calls

An Inspector calls – by J.B. Priestly:

Was performed in the Dulverton Town Hall, on the 17th – 20th November 2010.

“An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestley, an Edwardian drama looking at the differences in life-chances between rich and poor. A strong cast is relishing the emotional and intellectual challenges involved. Directed by John Thorogood, assisted by Marion Silverlock, this substantial play was an intriguing evening to stimulate many ideas – and conversations on the way home.

Cast and crew:

Arthur Birling – Simon Bartlett
Gerald Croft – Richard Hall
Sheila Birling – Suzanne Thompson
Sybil Birling – Sara Hooley
Edna – Paula Eden
Eric Birling – Alan Marks
Inspector Goole – Nick Thompson

Stage Manager: Chris Dubery
Technical Director: Simon Williams
Prompt & rehearsal refreshments: Cynthia Sharpe
Costume: Marian Allen assisted by Liz Stanbury
Make up: Liz Stanbury
Props: Debbie Passmore
Front of House manager: Audrey Pawlowski
Programme and ticket printing: Simon Bartlett
Poster Design & production: Claire Saville
Set builders/breakers: under the direction of Simon Williams with Chris Dubery, Harley Stratton and as many others as possible.

Press release to the Dulverton Parish Magazine.

The Dulverton Players hit a new high in their recent revival, with four nights of JB Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’ at the Town Hall last week.

The Players were lucky to be able to stage this production. The publishers originally refused a licence because the play is about to go on professional tour with a West End revival shortly. However, the Estate of JB Priestley were generous, and persuaded that Dulverton, isolated by miles from any theatre, was worthy of the chance to produce this play. The cast, directors, backstage team, and especially the loyal Exmoor audiences, did not let JB or the Estate down.

The stage was a star in ‘Her’ own right. The period is 1912 and the set modelled on ‘Downton Abbey’, even the wallpaper matches theirs. It provided the perfect dining room for a beautifully costumed and wigged group of snotty, successful, industrial middle-class parvenu’s, who don’t realise that they each have something shameful to hide around the unexpected tragic death of a young woman who they have all, unknowingly had abusive contact with in the last two years. The set also facilitated a well worked choreography of moves for the cast, all performed naturally in character and suited to the moods of the moment.

Simon Bartlett plays the father of the house with an excellently sustained North Riding accent. It’s a tough part in which he portrays the pitiable self-made man destined for a fall. His wife, portrayed with Maggie Smith subtlety by Sara Hooley, weaves an unfortunate demise for her son, the restrained but drunken Prince of Wales lookalike, Alan Marks, reeling through his part.

The dewy eyed romantic daughter, who Suzanne Thompson moves neatly from innocent faux aristocrat to guilt ridden hysteria, is engaged to be married to Gerald Croft, the business son of a real knight. Richard Hall is the perfect, careful, thinking foil to the family he intends to marry down into. Paula Eden, in her Dulverton debut, pops in and out of the dining room door which any amateur dramatic society would be proud to have designed – it opened, shout and slammed smoothly and dramatically without disturbing the antique pictures, brass wall lamps, or much imbibed decanter of port.

What could they have done differently or better? It would be nitpicking, but a little more jovial life at the opening dinner party to offset the tragedies that are to follow. It is a long script for the modern theatre, but the impending professional tour meant a ban on any editing of the script. The cast got the pitch of the dramatic revelations on just the right notes as this is this ethereal mystery unfolded.

But this is certainly not a murder mystery! Priestley wrote it in 1945 as a requiem to two World Wars, and the hoped for onset of a Welfare State in which we would all work and care for one another – then as now. But this family, like most, have little indiscretions that are best kept private. Taken all together they amount to the kind of spite we witness in modern soap operas today. But is this the real story or an allegory?

The clue to the plot lies in the name of Inspector Goole played with authority, questioning calm, pointed intrusion, putdowns, and appropriate menace by Nick Thompson. He is the conscience of this script, the Greek chorus, the Common Man, the moral arbiter of right and wrong. It is a pity the Players won’t be touring this production, but then they could never replicate that set around the region.

The prompt, Cynthia Sharp, had a few calls on her skill but never interrupted the flow is an excellent team of amateurs pulled off what is a long play with tough interjections mingled with lengthy eulogies and diatribes.

John Thorogood and Marion Silverlock, directors, with Christine Dubery, Steve Hall, Tom Lock, Liz Stanbury, Marion Allen, Robert Loosely and Simon Williams constituted a real team who brought this unexpected pleasure to fruition for three and half full houses over four nights.

More please.



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Dulverton on Exmoor.

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