Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Cast: David Thewlis, Miranda Richardson, Ken Stott, Sophie Rundle, Kyle Sollar, Finn Cole, Chloe Pirrie, Lucy Chappell, Wanda Opalinska, Flora Nicholson, Charlotte Butler, Gary Davis.
When a writer of absolute conviction is adapted for television by one who shares the same passion, the same feel for the dramatic, it can only bring out the very best in television, so much so that it becomes one of the greats of the year.
Helen Edmundson and J.B. Priestley are certainly a match made in television heaven and for anybody who caught the astonishing Mary Shelley at the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre in 2012 would understand, to take on Priestley’s seminal piece, An Inspector Calls, is a story that begs to have Ms. Edmundson’s terrific power of literary observation and sense of keen imagination thrust deeply within the psyche and conscious pricking thought that stands between socialism and the evils of unconscionable capitalism.
What Helen Edmundson manages to do to Priestley’s work is take it to a place where the viewer is treated to a place where the unseen and the act of death is personified, where actions laid down so vividly by J.B. Priestley are intensified and given a twist that really makes An Inspector Calls such an outstanding piece of rare television.
Not only does the adaption bring out the very best in the drama but it brings out such startling acting ability in those that are normally rightly considered at being amongst the very best of their generation. For David Thewlis, one of the finest around and whose screen parts are legendary, to give Inspector Goole such an enigmatic, down cast and disheartened appeal is to rank this particular part as a true highlight. Alongside the redoubtable Miranda Richardson and the formidable Ken Stott, Chloe Pirrie, a woman who seems to have come such a long way in such a short space of time, captured the screen as the selfish Sheila Birling with such ease that it echoed the sentiment of the story, that the time of such class was soon to end, by design or by fire if need be.
An Inspector Calls, one of the true classics of theatre, has finally made its mark on television and ranks highly alongside the 1954 film which takes on a very similar technique. A piece of television that will be hard to ever forget.
Ian D. Hall