The play opens on a luxurious and beautifully decorated dining room, its in here that we are introduced to the Birlings and Gerald Croft, all of them are successful and very rich. The room is bright and the atmosphere is happy and cheerful as they are having a party to celebrate the engagement of Sheila Birling, a young and naï¿½ve woman. On the large wooden dining table there are lavish and succulent foods spread across it. The fabulous decor, tender foods and silverware are representational to the Birling’s wealth.
Mr. Birling (presumed head of the family) is a loud, self-loving and pathetic man; this point is made clearly to the audience with his self-confident speeches and ridiculously inaccurate presumptions. For example, he mentions that the glorious liner the Titanic will never sink. Mrs. Birling a very manipulative and devious woman who believes her morals are right, even though we know this is not true. Her personality is very obvious to an audience when the inspector questions her about the suicide of Eva Smith. We then have Sheila Birling, the youngest of the Birlings. She is sophisticated and has class although has very little experience with the ‘real world’.
And the last of the Birlings is Eric, he is a loser in some respects, he may be rich and in a sense successful but he lacks class and posture, this is because of his alcohol problem which his frowned upon by his family. Audiences can tell he is an alcoholic because of his indistinguishable speech and unbalanced walk. The last of the main characters is Gerald Croft a young, talented and wealthy man who is high in class and talents. He and Sheila seem to be the perfect couple on stage, but we later find out that Sheila wasn’t the only woman Gerald loved. At the arrival of the inspector the cheery atmosphere plunges into a dark and curious one, the inspector by the name of Goole (ghoul) is used as a device by the director to make the Birlings ‘crack’ and admit to the things they done to lead to Eva Smith’s suicide, although this is not as easy as expected because the inspector has to cope with their big-headedness.
The inspector is dressed in dark clothing throughout the play and always has bright lights shining at his face to give him a ghostly appearance. On stage at theatrical productions, the Birlings’ house is tall and stands out from the surrounding area. The house opens at the beginning of the play to reveal the Birlings in their full glory. On the dirty streets outside of the raised house you can see working class men, women and children wandering around outside. These act as an obvious comparison to the middle class and working class.
If I were the director of these scenes I would have the Birlings house to be situated on top of a hill, away from the suburbs of London where the poor would wander. The Birlings’ dining room would be the only visible room in the Birlings house, and the decor would be expensive and attractive. In here the Birlings would stand, along with Gerald all holding a glass of wine to propose a toast to Sheila and Gerald. Cheerful music would be heard in the background to promote the happy atmosphere.
When Mr. Birling stands up to do his speech about life, he will be wearing a smart dinner suit and an out of place ‘spotty’ tie to emphasise his stupidity, Mrs. Birling will be wearing an elegant evening gown with lots of golden necklaces which represents of her love for money. Then we will have Sheila dressed in a beautiful red dress, symbolic of her love to Gerald. Eric would be dressed in a smart dinner suit like his father’s. He will have his hair un-styled and messy and have a bottle of spirits in his hard through the duration of play to show he is an alcoholic.
And finally Gerald, young and handsome. He would be wearing a slick and stylish suit and tie to show he has class and a thing for the ladies. When Inspector Goole arrives at the Birling house the happy music in the background will stop and the happy atmosphere will be drained away as he walks around. The inspector will be wearing a white suit and hat and have pale skin and dark eyes to make his appearance more surreal and ghostly.