By Hilary Porter

J.B. PRIESTLEY'S morality play – written in 1945 and back at the Mayflower for the third time, calls for a world that is kinder, fairer and more humane - and it could not be more relevant than today.

This is the same production Stephen Daldry directed as his stunning National Theatre debut some 27 years ago when he radically reshaped the thriller, breathing extraordinary new life into an old war horse.

Daldry’s visionary, radical, challenging version has been hailed the theatrical event of its generation and the enthusiastic reaction of a press night audience packed with GCSE school pupils proves it has a very long future yet!

Set designer Ian McNeill’s claustrophobic and precariously balanced- on- stilts dolls house in which the irksome Birling family are cocooned in their pompous, privileged, selfish and self-congratulatory lives is the most brilliant theatrical device.

Its closed walls symbolise the constraints of their society and capitalist cruelty, only for their values to be rocked to their very foundations as they are laid low in the gutter by the Inspector's revelations.

Outside the shrunken house lies an apocalyptic post-Blitz world and this set design combined with Stephen Warbeck's foreboding, booming score and gloomy lighting conspire to give you goose bumps as the mysterious Inspector Goole comes to call with his grim news.

The play cleverly plays tricks with time so that the past, present and future all come in to play. It is set in 1912 ( at the time of the Titanic and with the First World War about to blow class structure apart) and yet, written at the end of World W II, the inspector arrives in a 1945 demob suit and the present is represented by the crowd/chorus of refugees and us the audience.

The inspector questions each of the Birling family about the tragic suicide of a young working class woman revealing how each is connected to her illustrating how all our actions have consequences and as a society we should share guilt, responsibility and examine our consciences.

It was a scathing criticism of the hypocrisies of Victorian and Edwardian English society and an expression of Priestley’s socialist political principles but it is very much a play for today.

The outstanding cast included:Liam Brennan as ‘Inspector Goole’, Christine Kavanagh ‘Mrs Birling’, Jeff Harmer ‘Mr Birling’, Alisdair Buchan ‘Gerald Croft’, Chloe Orrock ‘Sheila Birling’, Ryan Saunders ‘Eric Birling’ and Diana Payne-Myers ‘Edna’.


Tickets: Tel: 02380 711811 or online at