When the Burnley Garrick Club decided to abandon the Mechanics Theatre in Burnley it was not without some doubt in their minds whether or not they were doing the right thing.
At this stage of their first season it seems like the Ace Centre in Nelson is shaping up to be an excellent venue for them if this week is anything to go by.
The penultimate play for this season is one of the old favourites by J.B. Priestley. “An Inspector Calls” is one that never seems to have any problem taking the audience on board and that is just what they did on the opening night.
I couldn’t understand why a burst of applause wasn’t evident as the curtain went back to reveal a very nice, warm, charming, colourful set – the dining room of the Birling family.
An intimate family party celebrates the engagement of Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft whose families own two reputable businesses in Brunley, an industrial city in the North Midlands, in the spring of 1912.
The strength of any play lies in the writing, the direction and the casting of the piece and “An Inspector Calls” qualifies in every department.
What a cracking cast that had exceptional strength right through the seven players, I’d go as far as to say the magnificent seven.
Gordon Ingleby, who takes the role of Arthur Birling, was a natural candidate for this part. His stage experience goes before him in playing this Victorian head of the family.
His wife Sybil Birling is down to the incomparable Dorothy Spencer, who says enough with her facial expressions to make anybody feel like they live in a hole, but it doesn’t end there. Her delivery is exquisite and her inclusion in any work is more than an advantage to a director and is certainly a bonus to an audience.
What can I say about Alan Hargreaves that I haven’t said before? He is quality, exceptional on stage in what ever role he takes on. For me he has everything. I never tire of watching him and his portrayal of Inspector Goole is another one of his many characters in his list to be proud of.
I was also very impressed with Andrea Crawley who gave us Sheila Birling, in a most professional style.
This girl is a super actress with an abundance of talent. Her determination to get the best out of her part was a credit to her along with the rest of the cast.
Gerald Croft, played by Paul Cunliffe, had a very confident style and delivered his character with perfection in mind.
Jordan Dalzell, who plays the young Eric Birling, comes nicely into his own throughout the play, having rather a taste for the hard stuff at times.
But it has to be said that he was not out of his depth even with such exalted company around him.
Frances Singleton, small though her part is, gives a good account of herself in her portrayal of Edna the Maid
This is a super play and I’m sure that director Clifford Spencer will be tickled pink with it.
Well done Garrick I’m glad to see things are going your way for a change I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with you.