On Wednesday 15th January, the English Department led a trip to Manchester to see the play “An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestley. Students studying the play at IGCSE and IB were offered the chance to attend and the bus was packed with enthusiastic year 11 to year 13 students. By 2 pm, we were seated in front of the stage at Salford’s ‘Lowry’ theatre.

Once the curtain rose, atmospheric smoke cleared to reveal a house, which we soon found out, was the Birling’s family home. The staging was cleverly designed with different levels representing different layers of the 1914 British class system. In their raised large suburban home, the upper-middle-class Birlings could be seen celebrating Sheila’s engagement to Gerald Croft.

The play centres on a visit from an Inspector who informs the family of the suicide of a young woman called Eva Smith; he ominously warns them that he wants to ask them some questions. His questions then reveal that they all had something to do with Eva’s death. As the play progresses, the audience is riveted by the development of each character once the inspector has made them aware of their responsibility for the suicide.
The characterisation by the actors meant that each family member was portrayed as I had imagined and the play was therefore very authentic. I was especially impressed by the portrayal of Sheila Birling who was well played and developed a sense of social responsibility by the final scenes.
Sparks, explosions and lights were used as surprising special effects. After the inspector left, the house of the Birlings collapsed, making the moment more intense and highly dramatic. The difference between the lower and the higher class was further emphasised through effective costume.
The play was exciting and very well acted. It stuck to the play script, visualised it well for the audience and helped to better our understanding of the play.
Written by Year 12 student, Carina Fohr (Rose)