Posted on 12/11/2018

‘An Inspector Calls’ in New Wimbledon Theatre

On Thursday 4th October a group of KS4 students went to the New Wimbledon Theatre to watch a production of the play;  ‘An Inspector Calls’ by JB Priestley. As we have been studying the book in English lessons, it was a great opportunity to see the play just like the audience saw it back in 1946. 

It all started when we entered the doors of a fancy looking mansion which actually was the theatre. We all sat down and opened our popcorn to get ready to watch an exhilarating play.

To give you a bit of context, the play is set in 1912 just before WW1 in the household of a very well off family called the Birlings. As the name of the play suggests, the plot is based around a police inspection however, the audience is quickly put to realisation that it is not a traditional ‘whodunnit’ play. It is a play based around social responsibility. This was purposefully done by Priestley to share his socialist, progressive views, as in the 1940s the country was suffering the consequences on WW2 after being led by a Conservative government for a long period. 

The play that we watched (it’s 2018 just if you are getting a bit confused with the dates- I don’t blame you) was, even though it might seem obvious, a near to exact re-enactment of the 1946 play but with modern technology to make the set look a lot more realistic. This meant that we could really see the effect that this play on the audience 70 years ago. For example, the Birlings’ household maid who at the beginning of the play is seen to have a minor role, comes on centre stage at the end to really suggest the mixing of social class that Priestley was trying promote. This really links to the very end of the play which ends in a cliffhanger in which we suspect the the Inspector is a ghost because of his foreshadowing abilities. This was done on purpose by the author as he wanted people to be telling each-other about possible scenarios as it was making people think about the play and ultimately its Left Wing ideas. 
We all fell right into the trap!

To finish, it is quite ironic as it seems that JB Priestley wrote this play knowing that seven decades later, students were going to read his book in a time when it is safe to say that politics are not at their strongest in Britain. Is Priestley also a ghost?

Armand De Lambilly W2/Y10


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