Legion Players take on Priestley
J.B. PRIESTLEY’S Victorian drama An Inspector Calls is the next play to be presented by the Legion Players as it celebrates its 80th anniversary.
The three-act play, which portrays the events of a single night in 1912, will be performed at the Gaiety Theatre next weekend (Friday and Saturday, November 16 and 17) and at the Erin Arts Centre the following Saturday (November 24).
Players member Stephanie Gray explained: ‘It focuses on the prosperous middle-class Birling family who live in a comfortable home in Brumley, a traditional industrial city in the north Midlands in England.
‘The family is visited by a man calling himself Inspector Goole, who questions the family about the suicide of a young working-class woman. They are interrogated and revealed to have been responsible for the young woman’s exploitation, abandonment and social ruin, effectively leading to her death. Long considered part of the repertory of classic ‘drawing room’ theatre, the play has also been hailed as a scathing critique of the hypocrisies of Victorian/Edwardian English society and as an expression of Priestley’s socialist political principles.’
She said: ‘Although dating from 1945, the play is as relevant today as ever. It is one of Priestley’s best known works for the stage. The play’s success and reputation has been boosted in recent years by a successful revival by English director Stephen Daldry for the National Theatre in 1992 and a tour of the UK in 2011-2012.
‘I directed the play for the society in 1986 and suggested it be repeated as part of our anniversary productions. I have always been drawn to character-based plays and this is certainly one of those.’
An Inspector Calls will feature Nigel Thijs as Arthur Birling, Jack Worthington as Gerald Croft, Una King as Sybil Birling, Rachael McWhinnie, a member of the Isle of Man Acting Academy in her first stage production as Sheila, St Ninian’s High School Year 9 student Fiora Galante as Edna, Ramsey Grammar School Year 11 student Patrick Crellin as Eric Birling and Anthony Lowey as Inspector Goole.
Stephanie explained: ‘It is always a thrill to see a play develop from words on a page, through rehearsals to something believable with well-shaped characters. The biggest worry is always about lines!’
She added: ‘The play remains involving and politically relevant for a modern audience. The success of productions since 1992 has led to a critical reappraisal of Priestley as a politically engaged playwright who offered a sustained critique of the hypocrisy of English society. Open to several interpretations, it should lead to some interesting discussions.’
The Legion Players were formed in 1932 by members of the Isle of Man County British Legion. The first production was of the WW1 classic Journey’s End by R C Sheriff.
Since then the society has produced more than 100 full length plays as well as one-act works, readings and Victorian music halls.
The play will be performed in the Gaiety at 7.30pm on the Friday and 2.30pm and 7.30pm on the Saturday.
Tickets cost £12, with concessions available for senior citizens, students and group bookings. They are available on 600555 or at www.villagaiety.com
The Port Erin performance will start at 7.30pm and tickets costing £10 (under-18s pay £1) are available from the centre on 835858.
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