With the outside of the house set in the 1940’s and the inside of the house set in 1912, the director Stephen Daldry vividly and cleverly links the two time settings together in the play. When I saw the stage for the first time, I wondered as to how a house and surroundings would all be able to fit because I felt that the stage was a bit smaller in size than I initially thought. When the play started off with three young children wandering about the stage I didn’t understand what their purpose in the play would be, that is until the end.
On the stage, as the curtains lifted, I saw what seemed like a blown up doll’s house perched upon wooden stilts with a light on. From inside I could hear jovial laughter and the sound of voices. Immediately I had the frightening thought that the whole play would be set inside that room in the house with only us, as the audience being able to listen and not see. My worries were put aside when a few minutes later Mr Birling appeared on the balcony.
I think that the balcony outside the front door seemed a bit pointless in that there wasn’t much of a splendid view, unless you call over looking a blitzed site with wet cobbled paving your ideal landscape view. However it was put to use later in the play as a ladder to go down onto the street. The atmosphere outside the house seemed to me as cold and dull, but hearing the laughter coming from inside of the house it was obvious to me that the Birling family hadn’t been outside to take everything in and so hadn’t noticed the sight beyond their door.
Throughout the play the atmosphere changes a lot especially on the arrival of the unexpected Inspector. When I first saw Mr Birling (played by Edward Peel) and how he behaved, it was exactly how I imagined him; very much of a business man who acts like he’s at the top of the first class group with his first priority to make money. He came out onto the balcony followed by his daughter’s fianci?? Gerald and then his son Eric. In the midst of Mr Birling’s speech, the inspector arrived.
Daldry had made the appearance of the inspector again just as I imagined him to be; mysterious, wearing a long coat and hat as if not to reveal himself too soon. The atmosphere was perplexing and the slow mystical music in the background added to the effect. Like Mr Birling, much of the characters were just as I thought they’d be like, however Mrs Birling (played by? ) had more of a comedy character. When her turn came to be questioned by Inspector Goole, she walked and behaved like she was higher than the queen and her manner of speaking was extremely posh.
Every so often the maid, Edna, moved a chair around for Mrs Birling to sit upon. But at the end after the family found that there wasn’t a real inspector but then got the strange phone call, it was Edna who got the chair and sat on it herself which I felt showed the reversal of the roles. The only major problem that I had with the play was the Inspector. I imagined Goole to have a more peculiar yet controlling manner, however on many occasions throughout the play he yelled and reached his peak of anger by removing his Jacket!
Out of the three children that I mentioned at the beginning, the youngest, a little boy, remained on the stage during the play and at the end, I worked out what I thought his purpose was. I think he was the inner child of the inspector but talking to my piers, he represented many other things such the soul of the inspector or a ghost child. The effects in the play were very well done. From the doll’s house, to the sheet of fake cloudy rain, they were all brilliantly done.
My favourite was the doll’s house and inside it as it was a classic Victorian dining room. It was shocking to see the house at one stage in the play topple over but it soon went back up again when the Birling’s realised that the inspector wasn’t a real one after all. The costumes were also good; a posh Victorian gown for Mrs Birling, a white gown for Sheila and tuxedos for the gentlemen; it helped to set the scene. Overall the play was well structured and well made because it contained many factors which captivated and involved the audience.
An example of involving the audience was when Sheila told her story of her encounter with Eva Smith. She told it as if she we the audience played the jury and she played the suspect. The use of climax kept us enthralled and captivated as it built up slowly, gathering the plot as it went on. Throughout each character’s questioning we could only guess who the culprit was and each time I nearly sussed the culprit out, the inspector switched to another character for questioning, and it was this which engrossed me in the action that was happening on – stage.