An Inspector Calls – A powerful production at the Maltz

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Inspector Goole with Edna and members of the Birling family. Photo by Alicia Donelan.

On Thursday, Feb 8, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre raised the curtain on its penultimate production of the 2017/18 season, “An Inspector Calls,” written by J.B. Priestley (1894-1984) and directed by multiple award winner J. Barry Lewis.

Opening night was a sellout and tickets for the remainder of the run are going quickly.  Single tickets start at $58. For show times, tickets and additional information contact the box office 561-575-2223 or visit www.jupitertheatre.org.

As to the play itself… WOW! And Wow again.

“J. Barry Lewis outdid himself,” said my husband as the applause died down and the audience started to leave, jaws still agape at the surprise ending. We’ve seen a lot of his work at the Maltz (e.g. “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Doubt,” and “Disgraced.” Among others) and this one is the best to date.”

The play takes place on a spring evening in 1912 in Brumley, an industrial city in Yorkshire, England. The  upper class Birling family Arthur Birling (Rob Donohoe), his wife Sybil Birling (Angie Radosh), daughter Sheila Birling (Charlotte Bydwell) and son Eric Birling (Cliff Burgess) with Sheila’s fiancé Gerald Croft (Jeremy Webb) are celebrating the Birling/Croft engagement as the possible merger of two powerful competitors that may make both families wealthier.

A staff of servants (Dante Marelli Jr, Alan Reiffe, Jeff Burton,  Harriette Greene, Sharon Taylor) and Edna (Elizabeth Dimon) the Birling’s maid - always present but rarely seen yet hovering unobtrusively to respond when needed – like an analog  Alexia.

The servants are clearing the dining table and the women have retired to another room when there’s a knock at the door.  Edna answers the door and announces Inspector Goole who enters and immediately takes control of the room announcing that he is investigating the suicide of a young woman, known variously as Eva Smith and Daisy Renton who had imbibed disinfectant and died a horrible death.

The inspector then proceeds to attach various acts of arrogance of each of the dinner guests’ encounters with Smith/Renton from Arthur firing her from the mill because she asked for a pittance increase in her salary to Sheila getting her fired from a cherished position in retail to a sexual liaison for Gerald Croft to an affair with Eric that she ended because he was using stolen money from Arthur’s enterprise but not before they got pregnant, to Sybil using her status in the community to deny Smith/Renton public assistance that had been her final hope.

Gerald had left the house after he’d told of his connection to the dead woman.  He returns after the inspector has left. He announces that there may not have been an Inspector Goole on the force.  Arthur calls the constabulary and gets confirmation that Gerald’s suspicion is correct. Gerald then calls the local infirmary and confirms there have been no recent suicides.

All seems safe. The younger Birlings plan to use the reprieve to make changes in their lives and how they deal with less fortunate people. Gerald and the elder Birlings celebrate their relief that it was a prank and they can go on with impunity.  And then the phone rings…


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